Base Oil is the name given to lubrication grade oils initially produced from refining crude oil (mineral base oil) or through chemical synthesis (synthetic base oil). Base oil is typically defined as oil with a boiling point range between 550 and 1050 F, consisting of hydrocarbons with 18 to 40 carbon atoms. This oil can be either paraffinic or naphthenic in nature depending on the chemical structure of the molecules.
Lubricant base oils are produced in a series of steps, which are designed to enhance certain desirable properties. These include viscosity index, oxidation resistance, thermal stability and low temperature.
Almost every lubricant used in plants today started off as just a base oil. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has categorized base oils into five categories (API 1509, Appendix E). The first three groups are refined from petroleum crude oil. Group IV base oils are full synthetic (polyalphaolefin) oils. Group V is for all other base oils not included in Groups I through IV. Before all the additives are added to the mixture, lubricating oils begin as one or more of these five API groups.
Group I base stocks contain less than 90 percent saturates and/or greater than .03 percent sulfur and have viscosity greater than or equal to 80 and less than 120.
Group II base stocks contain greater than or equal to 90 percent saturates and less than or equal to .03 percent sulfur and have viscosity index greater than or equal to 80 and less than 120.Group III base stocks contain greater than or equal to 90 percent saturates and less than or equal to .03 percent sulfur and have viscosity index greater than or equal to 120. base stocks are polyalphaolefins (PAO).Group V base stocks include all other base stocks not included in Group I, II, III, IV.
A recent study on the use of base oil in today’s plants in comparison to a little more than a decade ago found a dramatic change has occurred. Present day Group II base oil are the most commonly used base oils in plants, making up 47% of the capacity of plants i9n which the study was conducted. This compared to 21% for both Group II and III base oils just a decade ago. Currently, Group III accounts for less than 1% of the capacity in plants. Group I base oil previously made up 56% of the capacity, Compared to 28% of the capacity in today’s plants.
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