New heavy duty vehicle oil standard

API is working on PC-12, a new heavy-duty engine oil standard to meet future challenges of fuel economy,  emissions and new engine technology.

Anticipating a five-year development and a one-year licensing period, Fuels and Lubes' report on a 'virtual' API update meeting stated the probable launch date of the new category will be 2027. To date there is no formal name for the specification, with PC-12 being used as a working title only.

The previous specifications, introduced in December 2016,  have had mixed results since coming to market, with CK-4 being well adopted but FA-4 yet to demonstrate its true benefits around fuel economy and shear viscosity. This is likely to change, according to F&L, as the latest heavy-duty engines start to hit the road.

According to the report, API is defining the needs of the new specification through three subgroups of the heavy-duty engine oil New Category Evaluation Team (NCET) which is examining: 

  1. Wear protection and test availability
  2. Subcategory optimisation, chemical box and viscosity
  3. Oxidation, corrosion and other aspects of interest.

More importantly the new specification needs to deliver significant impact in API's wider targets of improving fuel economy, reducing emissions and providing products compatible with new engine technology, while not forgetting the potential rise of electric and/or hydrogen-powered trucks and buses.

The NCETs are faced with a hardware and testing availability lifespan to 2040 for PC-12.  This means considering alternatives to some of the existing tests that will either be unavailable for the new category or inadequate to meet its specification needs - for example the Mack T-11 Engine Lubricant Test. Gap analysis, led by NCET 1, has already been undertaken, with a number of tests being highlighted for replacement.0

Other challenges facing the NCETs include on/off road fuel economy test limits; backward compatibility with existing API specs; elastomer compatibility and improved oxidisation performance - the latter with help and feedback from the Truck and Engine Manfucturers Association (EMA). 

The F&L report offered a detailed insight into the technical issues that will be covered by the Teams working to develop the new standard as well as introducing some of the Team Chairs. Clearly, there is considerable work to be undertaken before they can bring the standard to the API Lubricants group who will have the final say on the name, licensing and technical requirements of PC-12.