In recent years, legislative authorities in the US, Europe and Japan have steadily reduced engine exhaust emissions, i.e., carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), sulphur, particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) to improve air quality. To meet these requirements engine manufacturers have had to make significant design changes and as a consequence new engine lubricant specifications from Industry bodies (ACEA, EMA, JAMA) and individual OEMs have had to be introduced to ensure adequate lubrication of these new engines. This has led to significant changes to heavy-duty diesel engine oil (HDDEO) oil formulation composition. Engine design modifications to increase fuel combustion efficiency such as increased peak cylinder pressure and increased fuel injection pressures have placed higher stress on piston rings and liners, bearings and valve train components [1], and improved oil consumption has meant longer oil residence time in the piston ring belt area. The practice of retarded fuel injection timing and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) as measures to reduce NOx levels by reducing peak combustion temperature has had a considerable impact on lubricant performance. Retarded injection leads to higher soot levels which can cause valve train wear and piston ring liner wear and soot-induced thickening, whilst EGR leads to increased corrosive acids and wear in the combustion chamber. Currently in Europe, Euro 3 heavy-duty engines predominantly use retarded fuel injection as the primary NOx emission control strategy although there are cases where EGR is used. In the US, cooled EGR is used by most engine manufacturers to meet US 2002 emissions. HDDEO’s contain a combination of performance additives such as overbased metal detergents, dispersants, antiwear agents and antioxidants designed to provide wear protection, engine cleanliness, and control of soot contaminants and oxidation. Other additive components include selected viscosity index (VI) improvers and pour point depressants to provide necessary viscosity characteristics and shear stability, and also anti-foam agents for oil aeration control. To meet the increased demands from low emission engines, the chemical composition of the performance additives has been modified and levels increased. Current HDDEOs optimized to meet US and European specifications contain typically between 1.3 and 1.9%wt sulphated ash, 0.1–0.14%wt phosphorus and 0.3–1.1.wt sulphur. To meet the next generation emission standards, engines will require the use of exhaust after-treatment devices. In Europe, Euro 4 emission reductions for NOx and PM, scheduled for introduction in 2005, will require the use of either selective catalytic reduction, or the use of EGR in combination with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). To meet the US 2007 requirements, higher levels of EGR than currently used, in combination with DPFs, is envisaged by most engine builders. Exhaust after-treatment devices are already used extensively in some applications such as DPFs on city buses in Europe and the US. Further NOx restrictions are scheduled for Euro 5 in 2008 and USA in 2010. NOx absorber systems, although used in gasoline engines, are still under development for heavy-duty diesel engines and may be available for 2010. Some lubricant base oil and additive components from oil consumed in the combustion chamber are believed to adversely affect the performance of after-treatment devices. Ash material from metal detergents and zinc dithiophosphates (ZDTP) can build up in the channels within particulate filters causing blockage and potentially loss of engine power, leading to a need for frequent cleaning maintenance. The role of sulphur and phosphorus in additive components is less clear. Sulphur from fuel can either oxidize to sulphur dioxide and react through to sulphuric acid, which manifests itself as particulate, or can have a poisoning effect on the catalyst itself. However, the role of sulphur containing additives is yet to be established. Phosphorus from ZDTP antiwear components can lead to a phosphate layer being deposited on catalyst surfaces, which may impair efficiency. Concerns from OEMs regarding the possible effects of ash, sulphur and phosphorus has led to chemical limits being introduced in some new and upcoming engine oil specifications. The ACEA E6 sequence restricts sulphated ash to 1.0%wt max, phosphorus to 0.08%wt max and sulphur to 0.3%wt max, while the PC-10 category scheduled for 2007 will have maximum limits of 1.0%wt sulphated ash, 0.12%wt phosphorus and 0.4%wt sulphur. The resulting constraints on the use of conventional overbased metal detergent cleanliness additives and zinc dithiophosphate antiwear additives will necessitate alternative engine oil formulation technologies to be developed in order to maintain current performance levels. Indeed, performance requirements of engine oils are expected to become more demanding for the next generation engines where emissions are further restricted. If absorbers become a major route for NOx reduction, limits on sulphur and phosphorus are likely to be more restrictive. Oil formulations meeting ACEA E6 and PC-10 chemical limits have been assessed in several key critical lubricant specification tests, looking at valve train and piston ring/cylinder liner wear, corrosive wear in bearings, piston cleanliness and soot-induced viscosity control. It is demonstrated that it is possible to achieve MB 228.5 extended oil drain performance and API CI-4 wear, corrosion and piston cleanliness requirements for current US engines equipped with EGR [2], at a sulphated ash level of 1.0%wt, and phosphorus and sulphur levels, (0.05 and 0.17%wt, respectively), considerably lower than these chemical limits. This is achievable by the use of selected low sulphur detergents, optimized primary and secondary antioxidant systems and non-phosphorus containing, ashless supplementary antiwear additives blended in synthetic basestocks. Field trials in several city bus fleets have been conducted to assess engine oil performance and durability using one of these low sulphated ash, phosphorus and sulphur (SAPS) oil formulations and to examine lubricant effects on particulate filter performance. Engine oil durability testing was conducted in bus fleets in Germany and Switzerland. These trials, involving over 100 vehicles, cover a range of engine types, e.g., Daimler Chrysler and MAN Euro 1, 2 and 3 and different fuel types (low sulphur diesel, biodiesel, and compressed natural gas) in some MAN engines. The fleets are fitted with continuously regenerating particulate filters either from new or retrofitted. Oils were tested at standard and extended drain intervals (up to 60 000km). Used oil analysis for iron, copper, lead and aluminium with the low SAPS oil in these vehicles have shown low wear rates in all engine types and comparable with a higher 1.8% ash ACEA E4, E5 quality oil. Soot levels can vary considerably, but oil viscosity is maintained within viscosity grade, even at 8% soot loading. TBN depletion and TAN accumulation rates are low showing significant residual basicity reserve and control of acidic combustion and oxidation products. Buses in Stuttgart and Berlin have been used to investigate lubricant ash effects of engine oil on particulate filter durability. Exhaust back-pressure is routinely measured and DPF filters removed and cleaned when back pressure exceeds 100 mbar. Comparison of rate of back pressure build up as a function of vehicle distance shows reduced back pressure gradients for the low SAPS oil relative to the 1.8%wt ash oil in both engine types looked at. An average reduction in back pressure gradient of 40% was found in buses equipped with OM 906LA engines in Berlin and 25% with OM 457hLA engines at both locations. Examination of the ash content in DPFs has shown a 40% reduction in the quantity of ash with the low SAPS oil. This investigation shows that it is possible to meet current long oil drain requirements whilst meeting chemical limits for future lubricants and provide benefits in DPF durability.

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