China demands higher specification than ILSAC GF-5 for TGDI engines

New turbocharged direct injection (TGDI) powertrains are becoming widespread throughout China with some industry experts estimating 50% of new vehicle sales in China could feature TGDI or GDI engines in 2018. A growing fleet of TGDI engines gives rise to an array of potential impacts on fuel and lubricant performance, such as particulate emission, fuel dilution, oil degradation, coking problems, surface deposit build up, and low-speed pre-ignition.

Speaking during the pre-conference workshop at F+L Week 2018 in Macao on “The impact of Modern Engine (GDI or TGDI) and Emission System on Future Fuels and Lubricants Requirements,” Simon Tung, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, suggests that the Chinese government is taking action with stricter regulation on emissions. Millions of TGDI engines in China will soon require gasoline particulate filters (GPF) and a compatible engine oil.

However, Tung says China’s oil industry doesn’t have an adequate oil for the high volume of TDGI engines on Chinese roads. A higher specification than the current ILSAC GF-5, allowing for a “mid-ash” TGDI passenger car oil, is necessary. Tung suggests there is strong demand for a mid-grade product between ILSAC GF-5 and ILSAC GF-6. One potential solution is General Motors’ dexos1TM (GM 2015 Engine Oil Standard), which provides for TGDI requirements, though the GM certification is clearly not suitable for competing OEMs in China. The American Petroleum institute (API), which licenses ILSAC GF-5 and soon will license GF-6 is rushing a new category to fill the gap called API SN Plus.

ILSAC GF-6 will address some of the well documented TGDI issues, such as low-speed pre-ignition, though waiting for GF-6 is not an option with millions of TGDI engines already in the market, and GF-6 first licensing is not due until 2019 – at the earliest. Teri Kowalski of Toyota Motor Corp. will discuss the current status of ILSAC GF-6 at F+L Week 2018 on Thursday, March 8.

During his presentation, Tung signposted further potential delays to the new ILSAC standard. In addition, GF-6 does not address the gasoline particulate filter (GPF) issue.  The Tsinghua University visiting professor says China needs to “act now to ensure their own specifications comply with their emissions regulation”.

Tung holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. He has been involved in the automotive industry since joining General Motors Research Laboratories in 1982 and was invited by Tsinghua University to be Distinguished Visiting Professor in 2017-2019 in Beijing, China.