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Flash point, base oil quality, performance #4808624
07/08/18 06:53 PM
07/08/18 06:53 PM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,425
PA
d00df00d Offline OP
d00df00d  Offline OP
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,425
PA
I always thought there was generally a strong correlation between an engine oil's flash point and the quality of its base stocks, such that an oil with a higher flash point could generally (though not always) be expected to be more resilient at high temps: less shear, fewer deposits, etc. I fully expected there to be exceptions, but I thought that was more-or-less the general trend.

Now I feel like I might have been wrong about that. On the one hand, Castrol Edge Supercar HP -- their Indy Car oil -- has a flash point of 220 C; Mobil 1 FS 0W-40 is at 226 C; and most (all?) of the Pennzoil Ultra line is below 230 C, with some oils only just above 200 C. On the other hand, the dino 5W-20 I'm running now has a flash point of 230 C, and Idemitsu makes an $8/qt 10W-30 with a flash point of 260 C.

Is there no correlation between flash point and base oil quality? Can anything about an engine oil's performance be reasonably inferred from its flash point? If so, what?


2008 BMW M3
Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: d00df00d] #4808679
07/08/18 08:15 PM
07/08/18 08:15 PM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
Tom NJ Online content
Tom NJ  Online Content
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
The problem with flash point is the test reproducibility by ASTM D 92 is +- 9C (+- 16F). To this test reproducibility you need to add batch-to-batch variability, which can give quite a range to the formulation. In addition, the figure published by the manufacturer for the formulation may be the average of their batch data, or the highest, or even the lowest.

In my day I ran thousands of flash points, and monitored lab data on thousands more so I could report an accurate average on our ester data sheets. I knew exactly what the flash point should be for a given pure ester, yet the flash points listed on competitor data sheets for the same ester were all over the place.

If you had a true flash point on the motor oil base oils, I would expect some correlation to base oil quality within a given chemistry, but when you start blending base oil chemistry and adding additives, all bets are off - too many variables. For example, a 4 cSt Group I stock has a flash point of around 400F while a 4 cSt PAO is about 425F, a diester about 440F, and a POE 480F. These differences make it difficult to compare unknown blends.

Noack volatility on the finished motor oil is probably a better measure of base oil quality since it isolates volatility from flammability, but even here there are many variables. For all the above reasons I pretty much ignore flash points.


Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: d00df00d] #4808699
07/08/18 08:39 PM
07/08/18 08:39 PM
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 12,582
Idaho
CT8 Offline
CT8  Offline
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Posts: 12,582
Idaho
Thanks TOM


2015 Ford F150 2.7
2018 Ford F350 6.2
Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: d00df00d] #4808760
07/09/18 12:25 AM
07/09/18 12:25 AM
Joined: Jul 2017
Posts: 502
WA
OilUzer Offline
OilUzer  Offline
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Posts: 502
WA
How did Noack came up with 250C?
Or who came up with 250C?I

Do we want the Noack test temperature (250C = 482F) be above most (all?) oil flash points to be an effective test or does it matter at all?

Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: Tom NJ] #4808814
07/09/18 05:12 AM
07/09/18 05:12 AM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,425
PA
d00df00d Offline OP
d00df00d  Offline OP
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Posts: 11,425
PA
Originally Posted By: Tom NJ
The problem with flash point is the test reproducibility by ASTM D 92 is +- 9C (+- 16F). To this test reproducibility you need to add batch-to-batch variability, which can give quite a range to the formulation. In addition, the figure published by the manufacturer for the formulation may be the average of their batch data, or the highest, or even the lowest.

In my day I ran thousands of flash points, and monitored lab data on thousands more so I could report an accurate average on our ester data sheets. I knew exactly what the flash point should be for a given pure ester, yet the flash points listed on competitor data sheets for the same ester were all over the place.

If you had a true flash point on the motor oil base oils, I would expect some correlation to base oil quality within a given chemistry, but when you start blending base oil chemistry and adding additives, all bets are off - too many variables. For example, a 4 cSt Group I stock has a flash point of around 400F while a 4 cSt PAO is about 425F, a diester about 440F, and a POE 480F. These differences make it difficult to compare unknown blends.

Noack volatility on the finished motor oil is probably a better measure of base oil quality since it isolates volatility from flammability, but even here there are many variables. For all the above reasons I pretty much ignore flash points.


Thanks, Tom!

As a largely-academic aside: is there ever a case where a tougher base oil is less volatile but not less flammable?


2008 BMW M3
Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: d00df00d] #4808851
07/09/18 06:35 AM
07/09/18 06:35 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
Tom NJ Online content
Tom NJ  Online Content
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
Originally Posted By: d00df00d

Thanks, Tom!

As a largely-academic aside: is there ever a case where a tougher base oil is less volatile but not less flammable?


Yes, different chemistries may have different flammabilities. For example phosphates would be less flammable at a given viscosity that say a hydrocarbon. There may also be flammability differences between linear hydrocarbons and aromatic hydrocarbons or esters or metal containing additives, but I do not have data on this. Molecular weight distribution is also a factor. The flash point test gathers oil vapors in the space above the oil surface, mixes the vapors with air and attempts to ignite the vapor/air mixture with a flame. The Noack test sweeps the vapors away making it a more pure volatility test. Since both tests are substantially affected by volatility there is a correlation but I wouldn't expect it to be perfect since there is no flame involved in the Noack (not to mention different temperature profiles).

Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: OilUzer] #4808864
07/09/18 06:58 AM
07/09/18 06:58 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
Tom NJ Online content
Tom NJ  Online Content
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
Originally Posted By: OilUzer
How did Noack came up with 250C?
Or who came up with 250C?I

Do we want the Noack test temperature (250C = 482F) be above most (all?) oil flash points to be an effective test or does it matter at all?


I don't know who decided on 250C - hopefully it was correlated to some real world performance parameter as all tests should be, but I have also seen what I call "management by round numbers".

Noack and flash point are quite different. Noack evaporates the light ends of an oil by blowing air across the surface at a constant 250C and measures the weight loss of the sample. Flash point slowly heats the oil from ambient to the point at which the vapors give a flash when a flame is passed over. The flame is not applied until the oil is within 27C of the expected flash point, so much of the light ends are already evaporated off. If you added say 5% of a solvent to an oil, the Noack loss would go up by 5% since all of the solvent would be evaporated off under the conditions of the test. The flash point, however, would not be affected since the solvent would be evaporated off before the flame is passed over the oil surface.

Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: d00df00d] #4808866
07/09/18 07:00 AM
07/09/18 07:00 AM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 4,438
New England
Virtus_Probi Offline
Virtus_Probi  Offline
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Posts: 4,438
New England
Just wanted to mention that I find Tom NJ's contributions here to be very valuable and I always keep an eye out for his posts.
Thanks so much for sharing from your wealth of oil industry knowledge, Tom NJ!


2014 Forester XT, 90000 miles
Last Change;
M1 5W30 d1G2
Tokyo Roki 15208AA170 filter
Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: Virtus_Probi] #4808898
07/09/18 07:40 AM
07/09/18 07:40 AM
Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 321
Alberta
carviewsonic Offline
carviewsonic  Offline
Joined: Aug 2016
Posts: 321
Alberta
"Just wanted to mention that I find Tom NJ's contributions here to be very valuable and I always keep an eye out for his posts.
Thanks so much for sharing from your wealth of oil industry knowledge, Tom NJ!"

+1


'18 Impala
'05 Park Avenue
'07 Honda Accord
'09 VStar 1300
Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: d00df00d] #4808907
07/09/18 07:51 AM
07/09/18 07:51 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
Tom NJ Online content
Tom NJ  Online Content
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
Thanks! Since I am retired for 11 years now I have to do something with all this useless knowledge floating around in my head before it all fades away! grin2

Now out to the garden to harvest some garlic, onions, peppers and beans.

Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: Virtus_Probi] #4808909
07/09/18 07:51 AM
07/09/18 07:51 AM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,425
PA
d00df00d Offline OP
d00df00d  Offline OP
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 11,425
PA
Originally Posted By: Virtus_Probi
Just wanted to mention that I find Tom NJ's contributions here to be very valuable and I always keep an eye out for his posts.
Thanks so much for sharing from your wealth of oil industry knowledge, Tom NJ!

Seconded! cheers


2008 BMW M3
Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: d00df00d] #4809006
07/09/18 09:23 AM
07/09/18 09:23 AM
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,307
NJ
bluesubie Offline
bluesubie  Offline
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,307
NJ
I wish there was an applause emoticon but Tom will have to settle for thumbsup .

cheers


'04 Subaru Forester 2.5XT
Castrol Edge High Mileage
Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: Tom NJ] #4809027
07/09/18 09:41 AM
07/09/18 09:41 AM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 4,438
New England
Virtus_Probi Offline
Virtus_Probi  Offline
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Posts: 4,438
New England
Originally Posted By: Tom NJ
Thanks! Since I am retired for 11 years now I have to do something with all this useless knowledge floating around in my head before it all fades away! grin2
Now out to the garden to harvest some garlic, onions, peppers and beans.

What time is lunch? I'm all for some fresh produce...
;^)
Sounds like you have found new ways to be productive in your retirement!


2014 Forester XT, 90000 miles
Last Change;
M1 5W30 d1G2
Tokyo Roki 15208AA170 filter
Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: bluesubie] #4809089
07/09/18 10:36 AM
07/09/18 10:36 AM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,507
Texas & Global
4WD Offline
4WD  Offline
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 7,507
Texas & Global
Originally Posted By: bluesubie
I wish there was an applause emoticon but Tom will have to settle for thumbsup .

cheers
Cheers2


2018 Chevy 1500 Z71 4WD
2017 Chevy Tahoe LT 4WD
2014 Fusion Hybrid Titanium
2013 Cruze LTZ - RS Turbo
Re: Flash point, base oil quality, performance [Re: Virtus_Probi] #4809102
07/09/18 10:41 AM
07/09/18 10:41 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
Tom NJ Online content
Tom NJ  Online Content
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,157
Virginia
Originally Posted By: Virtus_Probi

What time is lunch? I'm all for some fresh produce...
;^)
Sounds like you have found new ways to be productive in your retirement!


Retirement is so busy that I don't know where I ever fund the time to work! Been growing vegetables for over 40 years, just on a larger scale now. Lunch is beet salad with onions, blue cheese, and walnuts. Better hurry over!

Oh, and I brew beer! cheers


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