Michael Anderson
Pacific Northwest
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What is the History of Synthetic Oil?

AMSOIL Synthetic Oil is manmade and far superior and very different from crude oil. The history of Synthetic Oil began through a chemical process known as the Fischer-Tropsch process, starting with raw materials like methane, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. This process was developed by Germany in WWII, when that country's access to crude oil was very limited.

Technology of Synthetic Oil versus Conventional

Conventional motor oil as we have known it for the last 100 years or so is derived from crude oil that is taken from the earth with oil wells. Through a complex distillation process, the crude oil is refined into many different liquids, or fractions, each having distinct characteristics. Some are very light and are used as fuel (gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel), and some are heavier and are used as lubricants (motor oil, gear lube, grease). There are many molecular compounds present in crude oil and many of those compounds are still present in the refined product, detracting from the physical properties of that product. For instance, paraffinic waxes are present in crude-based oil, but contribute nothing to the lubricating properties of the oil. Also, the size of the hydrocarbon molecules themselves are non-uniform in crude-based oils. While Synthetic oil contains none of these contaminants and the hydrocarbon molecules are very uniform, giving the synthetic oil base better mechanical properties at extremely high and low temperatures. By contrast, AMSOIL synthetic oil is 100% Synthetic and is not distilled from crude oil.

AMSOIL Synthetic Oil in Tacoma, WA and Grades of Oil

Absolute-Synthetic in Tacoma, WA offers a complete line of AMSOIL Synthetic Oil and lubricants for all your engine needs. Contact or call (360) 304-8595 to speak to an AMSOIL specialist today. Since motor oils are derived from base stocks. That is, a generic oil base is modified with additives to produce a lubricant with the desired properties. A base stock oil with no additives would not perform very well at all.

Base stocks are classified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and fall into one of five categories:

  • Group V - these are synthetic stocks other than PAO's and include esters and other compounds.
  • Group I and II - these are mineral oils derived from crude oil
  • Group III - this is a highly refined mineral oil made through a process called hydrocracking. In North America this group is considered a synthetic oil, for marketing purposes.
  • Group IV - these are true synthetic oils, known as Polyalphaolefin (PAO).

Physical Properties and the History of Synthetic Oil

The viscosity index of synthetic oil is key to its history, development and advancement over conventional oils. All oils behave differently at different temperatures. As temperatures drop, the hydrocarbon molecules in mineral oils start to line up and stick together. This causes the viscosity of the oil to increase, which makes it harder for it to lubricate an engine. At high temperatures, the opposite happens and the oil's viscosity decreases, making it less effective at protecting moving parts. Additives known as Viscosity Improvers are added to combat this. Basically viscosity improvers are coiled molecules that shorten when cold, and lengthen when hot. The short, cold molecules interfere with the hydrocarbons lining themselves up, and the longer hot molecules help things stick together better (at the molecular level) and keep things from getting too 'loose'. Unfortunately, viscosity improvers break down when exposed to heat and mechanical shearing, so oils that use a lot of viscosity improvers don't last very long. This is where synthetics have an advantage. The branched-chain structure of synthetic oils naturally resist changes in viscosity with temperature. It's just the way they're made. Therefore, true synthetic oils often don't need any viscosity improvers at all! This is one reasonsynthetic oils last so much longer than non-synthetics. The physical property used to quantify an oil's resistance to viscosity change with temperature is known as the Viscosity Index (VI). The higher the VI, the more resistant to viscosity change the oil is.

Oil Weight History of Synthetic Oil

Most oils used in automotive and truck applications are considered multi-grade oils. This is indicated by the familiar nomenclature like 10W-30 or 10W-40. The second number is the nominal viscosity of the oil at 100 degrees C. Thus, a 10W-30 like AMSOIL Signature Series 10W-30 Synthetic Motor Oilbehaves the same as a straight 30 weight oil when it is hot. The first number is the Winter weight of the oil. It indicates how the oil behaves when cold. '10W' indicates than the oil behaves as a straight SAE 10 weight oil when cold. As previously noted, non-synthetic oils achieve this behavior with VI additives. Synthetics can easily achieve 5W or even 0W ratings with no viscosity improvers added. The bottom line is that synthetic oils pump better than non-synthetics when cold. In extremely cold climates, a 0W-30 like AMSOIL Signature Series 0W-30 Synthetic Motor Oilwill help your engine's protection and performance. More and more new engines use lighter oils, like 5W-20 or AMSOIL XL 5W-20 Synthetic Motor Oil, to achieve higher fuel efficiency. Ford, Honda, and Toyota are using these oil weights in all their newer cars, and more will follow suit as fuel efficiency standards continue to be tightened. 0W-20 oils like AMSOIL OE 0W-20 Synthetic Motor Oilare also starting to hit the market. Most cars on the road, though, use something in the AMSOIL 5W-30 to 10W-40 range.

For the best performance and protection in your engine, from the family sedan to the commercial fleet, marine engines to lawnmowers, trust AMSOIL and Absolute-Synthetic in Tacoma, WA. Absolute-Synthetic offers a complete line of AMSOIL Synthetic Oil and lubricants for all your engine needs. Contact or call (360) 304-8595 to an AMSOIL speak to a specialist today.


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