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Shell Prepares for Next-Gen Motor Oil Specification


The automotive and motor oil industries are working on the next generation of motor oil specifications. The new specs will support the next generation of fuel-efficient, low-emission engines while providing continued protection and performance for virtually all cars on the road today.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) and auto Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have agreed to launch a supplemental passenger car motor oil specification, API SN PLUS. API SN PLUS is still being defined, but Shell believes that its dexos1 Gen 2 formulations will meet its requirements, according to the company.

As soon as this supplemental category is defined and the testing protocol for the API SN PLUS license is available, Shell will seek API SN PLUS approvals for the following products and expect to claim API SN PLUS for them on first use date:

  • Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oils - SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, 5W-30 and SAE 10W-30
  • Pennzoil Gold Motor Oils - SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, 5W-30 and SAE 10W-30
  • Quaker State Ultimate Durability Full Synthetic Motor Oils - SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, 5W-30 and SAE 10W-30
  • Quaker State Synthetic Blend Motor Oils - SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20 and SAE 5W-30

Shell expects the first use date for API SN PLUS to be sometime in May.

Why Now

As OEMs continue to strive for increased fuel economy and compliance with emission regulations, many have introduced downsized engines—with a displacement volume somewhere between one to two liters—that provide greater fuel economy under normal driving conditions, while delivering higher power-density and torque. To achieve this, these downsized engines are often equipped with a turbocharger and direct fuel-injection technology. This type of engine technology is generally known as Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection, or TGDI.

The high pressures from turbocharging combined with direct fuel injection into the combustion chamber in these smaller TGDI engines makes them susceptible to a phenomenon known as Low Speed Pre-Ignition, or LSPI. While the mechanism of LSPI is not yet fully understood, research has shown that motor oil properties may be a contributing factor, according to Shell. OEMs can mitigate LSPI by adjusting the engine operating conditions, but in doing so they inhibit some high efficiency engine operating conditions.

Motor oils can be reformulated to help prevent LSPI, and the Auto-Oil Advisory Panel, which is developing the ILSAC GF-6 standard, has commissioned a new testing method for LSPI. Amid growing concerns about LSPI among OEMs, the urgent need for a supplemental service category became evident, according to Shell. This new supplemental category, known as API SN PLUS, will include the testing protocol for API SN and a special test for LSPI.

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