Base Oils for fuel economy

Sustainable synthetic base oil provides “step change” in performance

For internal combustion engines (ICE) to remain relevant they need to continue to improve their fuel economy. One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a low viscosity engine oil, which can provide improved efficiency at initial fill and throughout the entire drain interval.

On April 29, during F+L Week 2022, Jeff Brown, president and CEO at Novvi LLC, spoke about advancements in base oil technology that can provide a “monumental step change” in fuel economy. Standard Group III base oil does not have the performance required for next-generation fuel-efficient engine oils, says Brown. California-based Novvi is a leader in the development of high-performance, low-carbon alternatives to petroleum.

Novvi has created a new sustainable synthetic base oil (SSBO), a 100% renewable, plant-derived, drop-in synthetic base oil that the company says elevates performance and sustainability standards for the lubricants industry.    

During his presentation, Brown highlighted the results of a Sequence IIIH engine test of a 100% SynNova 0W-20 ILSAC GF-6 engine oil formulation. The Novvi executive underlined “basically a zero percent increase in viscosity” — with little degradation in viscosity of the oil ensuring optimal ongoing engine protection.

Brown also emphasised that the SSBO demonstrated a significantly lower friction coefficient/torque loss through optimised structures In MTM (mini-traction machine) traction tests. Improving fuel economy through frictional characteristics and simultaneously improving wear protection is normally in the realm of additive companies. The ability to adjust the frictional coefficient in the base oil can change the game, says Brown.   

Overall engine oil volumes are expected to remain flat through 2030. Brown suggested that formulators focus their efforts on 0W-XX engine oils which, he says, will grow from 14% today to approximately 40% market share by 2030. 0W is the fastest-growing grade of engine oil of all time, says Brown.