Have you ever wondered how is synthetic motor oil made? In short, it involves the application of a chemical progression known as the Fischer-Tropsch process. But that is not all there is to it, and we will get to that in due time.
But for starters, engines require motor oils to reduce friction due to moving engine parts. It doesn’t take a mechanic to know this fact. This resulting friction from the motor parts moving against each other creates excess heat, wears down, and reduces the engine’s power.
In this situation, oil can help lubricate and clear the engine and effectively reduce friction. Even conventional oil can help achieve this. But if it is synthetic oil, the benefits far outweigh regular crude oil.
In this article, we will do a deep dive into how synthetic oil is produced, including other necessary details associated with it. So please read on to find out with us.
How Synthetic Came into Existence
The origin of how synthetic oil came about goes back as far as the Second World War. The long, drawn-out war was causing a rapid depletion of provisions, and there was a widespread lack of food as its duration trudged on.
Coupled with the shortage of food, the situation further escalated with the military vehicles failing to startup. The crude oil that back then used to get solidified due to prevailing cold temperatures.
This scenario bred the necessity for alternative oil, preferably one that would allow smooth operation even when in freezing weather. Synthetic crude turned out to be a one-stop solution for all of these adversities.
Not only did it flow fast in cold temperatures, but it also effectively diminished the wearing away of the engine parts. At the same time, it also lubricated all the engine parts sufficiently and reduced friction too. Collectively, synthetic oil considerably enhanced the engine’s durability.
In the present day, synthetic oil manages to keep up to its reputation of offering a whole array of benefits at once. Apart from ensuring better engine performance, it also helps resist thermal breakdown and oxidation. In many cases, issues of oil sludge are also efficiently avoided.
Synthetic oil gets blended in a way that can prevent sludge even during the very worst of engine conditions. With prolonged usage, all kinds of impure oil, dirt, metals, and acid deposits get accumulated on top of the engine. That goes on to sludge. Synthetic oil amasses these deposits to prevent sludge buildup.
So without further ado, let us get down to cracking down on the production process of this wonder oil.
How is Synthetic Motor Oil Made?
Unlike crude oil, which is a natural substance, synthetic oil is an artificial lubricant. It is also not manufactured through a distillation process, as the case is with its natural counterpart.
Instead, it happens through a catalytic chemical combination method called the Fischer-Tropsch process.
What is The Fischer-Tropsch Process?
Named after the German scientists who take credit for formulating this process, Hans Tropsch and Franz Fischer, the Fischer-Tropsch method produces liquid fuels even in the present day. The source of both these fuels, however, can be both natural gas and coal.
In the case of synthetic oil, the base is always that of crude oil. The typical implementation of this process and subsequent production of synthetic gas includes hydrogen and carbon monoxide. These are said to be feedstock elements of the Fischer-Tropsch process.
It is the method of gasification that helps us derive these feedstock elements of natural gas or coal. After this, the Fischer-Tropsch mechanism transforms these into what is known to us as synthetic oil.
These are the steps involved in the production of synthetic oil in a lab –
- The process commences with using regular petroleum, which in this case acts as the primary feedstock.
- A few additional raw materials like methane, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide join the feedstock elements by injecting them together.
- Since the base is of natural crude oil, it lacks some necessary chemical compounds. These compounds create oil molecules that are uniform in terms of weight and size.
- Following the formation of modified molecules, they serve as the lubricating elements in the oil.
- Other than that, some additional atoms get added to neutralize any acids formed during the fuel or gasoline combustion.
When the whole process gets concluded, the synthetic oil that we get at the end of it gets reduced to primary forms of molecules. But this happens only when the motor oil is thoroughly purified and distilled.
During this whole process, a lot of impurities also get formed. But the traditional oil elements present within all the components get working to extract all these impurities. At times, some additives can also serve to ensure better performance.
As a result, all the individual molecules become customized to function just as smoothly with machinery and vehicles of the present day as they did when it first came about. That is also the reason behind synthetic oil’s exemplary performance in extremely cold weather conditions. Although in current times, it works just as well in both high and low temperatures.
Varying Processes for Manufacturing Synthetic Oil
Countless laboratories around the world manufacture synthetic oil today. So it is common knowledge that different brands or manufacturers will adapt varying methods.
While it might be too much to hope for these manufacturers to divulge their production secrets, we can enlighten you with some basic information regarding the oil manufacturing process.
Types of Synthetic Oil
Synthetic oil broadly falls under two main categories. They are the Group III and Group IV oils. Let us have a detailed look at both these categories individually to get a better idea.
Group III Synthetic Oil
- The Group III lubricants originate from certain residual petroleum products.
- While manufacturing certain products from crude oil like diesel, heating oil, and gasoline, a lot of the petroleum gets left with no other purpose. So they are used for the production of synthetic oil through reprocessing.
Group IV Synthetic Oil
- The Group IV lubricants utilize originate from the synthesis of simpler chemical compounds. This synthesis, however, happens differently.
- This category of synthetic oil does not break down even in high temperatures and can flow quite smoothly.
- It is supposedly the most superior quality of synthetic oil that is presently available.
Regardless of the grade or type of how is synthetic motor oil made, all of them come through, turning a gas into a liquid. The only difference lies in their process of synthesis, and that in turn affects their performance.
Limitation for Usage
As great as synthetic oil is, there is a limit to its use. It is ill-advised to be used in all types of vehicles, especially older make. Cars or vehicles that are devoid of modern engines function better when they run on regular oil.
That is because their engines are of a make that only accommodates the natural crude oil. But the synthetic oil that we currently get is more suited for prolonged use in sophisticated, modern-day car models.
Even if your vehicle manufacturer ensures that synthetic oil can be safe for your use, you need to tread carefully. That is because the specification for engine oil listed in the automobile manual would have to match precisely in terms of the synthetic oil’s viscousness grade. Otherwise, it might lead to adverse effects.
Therefore, it is advisable to cross-check your manual and determine which oil will be safe for use and deliver better engine performance. You can also look for comparisons of some of the best options such as Marvel Mystery Oil Vs. Seafoam to have a clear idea.
It is proven and time-tested that synthetic motor oil delivers unsurpassed performance in terms of smooth running in your engine. In addition, it also enhances the longevity and quality of the locomotive compared to using conventional crude oil.
At present, more and more vehicle owners are making the shift to synthetic motor oil. It is entirely because this lubricant will keep your engine running and, in the process, provide protection for it too.
However, this is only applicable for fuel economy, high performance, or modern engines, not for those with older make, as we have mentioned before. The cherry on the cake concerning the exemplary benefits of synthetic motor oil ensures smooth running for even extreme weather conditions.
In terms of the intricate details of how is synthetic motor oil made, we hope you have been able to acquaint yourself with it adequately with the help of this article. So if your manufacturer recommends synthetic oil for your vehicle, take our advice and don’t delay.
So make the synthetic shift and thank us later!