PC-11 inches closer to licensing

Updated Dec 5, 2016

Chevron’s Shawn Whitacre says the hard part is over.

As Chairman of the ASTM Heavy-Duty Engine Oil Classification Panel, Whitacre has spent the last five years leading the development and implementation of Proposed Category-11 (known as PC-11 for short), the next generation of heavy-duty engine oil.

And in early December, after several years of developing parameters for the oil and tests to prove its performance, Whitacre says the specifications of PC-11 were formally approved by an ASTM subcommittee, meaning after the conclusion of an American Petroleum Institute (API) required waiting period, the oils of PC-11 will be officially licensed for use in North America later this year.

“Now we’re into the commercialization stage; substantiating the products against the category’s specifications,” says Whitacre, senior staff engineer of engine oil technology at Chevron.

PC-11 is not the first time a new oil category has debuted in the modern heavy-duty marketplace (today’s CJ-4 oil category debuted in 2006), but it is unique in that this December’s PC-11 rollout will be the first time two oils will ever be released within a single new category.

Whitacre describes the two new oils as follows:

API CK-4: The logical progression from CJ-4, Whitacre says CK-4 will retain all of properties found in today’s current heavy-duty oils. CK-4 will be offered at the same viscosity grades available today and will be backward compatible with all engines found in today’s commercial vehicle market.

“If you’re using CJ-4 10W30 today you can switch to the CK-4 pretty transparently,” Whitacre says.

He says the most significant improvement of CK-4 — which is expected to immediately dominate the landscape on arrival — is improved oxidation stability and slightly longer oil life. CK-4 also has been tested and proven to perform at peak efficiency at temperatures 10-15˚F higher than CJ-4 oil.

API FA-4: This entirely new low-viscosity oil is a first for the heavy-duty industry. Developed primarily at the request of truck and engine OEMs, FA-4 has been formulated to meet future Federal fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission regulations. Thinner than CK-4 and all past oils, Whitacre says FA-4 will most likely only be found as a factory-fill option for new on-highway engines focused on fuel economy, and may not permeate deep into the market until later this decade.

“We don’t know yet what engine makers are going to approve these oils for use in their engines, or if they’ll approve it for only some of their engines,” he says. “Some of that should become clearer over the next six months … but I don’t expect FA-4 will have a significant market share early on.”

Whitacre says Chevron and other oil producers are now working to perfect their formulations within the testing procedures developed for PC-11.

“Now comes the fun part, the developmental work,” he says. “It’s time to start getting the product ready to hit the shelves.”

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