UK-based additive manufacturer Infineum spent more than USD100 million in developing products for ILSAC GF-6, according to Infineum CEO Trevor Russell, who spoke last Friday at the ICIS World Base Oils & Lubricants Conference in London. “We’re just one stakeholder,” he adds. Infineum is one of the four major additive companies that develop and manufacture additive packages for this latest passenger car engine oil category that will officially launch in May 2020.
It has taken an extraordinarily long time to develop the newest engine oil specification. Development of the category officially commenced in 2011. Over several years, Infineum has invested heavily in following technical developments, running tests, developing formulations, deploying technology in certain base stocks, and building new assets required to meet the evolving specifications, says Russell.
“I look at the outcome of GF-6. Hopefully, someone is really benefiting from this transition. I don’t feel it is me.” Infineum is selling ILSAC GF-6 products at lower margins than the current category, ILSAC GF-5, he adds.
“Going to PC-12, there will be more complex challenges,” says Russell. PC-12 is the working name for the next heavy-duty engine oil category to be developed collaboratively by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), oil companies and additive companies in North America. The heavy-duty category involves bigger engines that burn more fuel and run for longer. Specifications also tend to be more expensive.
Hopefully, lessons have been learned from GF-6 and the industry takes those lessons forward into PC-12 to remove some of the wasteful complexity present in the current processes, Russell says. “Bad” complexity includes industry specifications where the same thing is measured in different ways, engine tests that are hard to calibrate and reproduce or not truly indicative of the problem they are trying to solve, and parts that are not readily available.
The Infineum CEO acknowledged the work being done to streamline existing processes including the formation of several cross-industry panels featuring representatives from the additive, lube oil and base oil companies, testing companies and other industry stakeholders. These industry committees will lead the progress towards greater simplicity.