First of all, why use coolant additives in the first place?
Straight water is the best coolant one could use. It absorbs and transfers heat better than any other liquid. So, why not just pour purified water into your coolant system and call it done?
The answer is obvious for those of us who drive in snow six months a year and those of you who face triple-digit temperatures all summer.
Water freezes at 32°F (0°C) and boils at 212°F (100°C).
Clearly, coolant formulators must add something to antifreeze & coolant to expand its application to areas where the weather isn’t perfect 365 days per year. Otherwise your engine would freeze in winter and your cooling system would overheat in summer.
Not only that, but water corrodes metal.
Running straight water in your vehicle’s cooling system would eventually lead to scale buildup that would plug the heater core and ruin the system.
It can also hasten corrosion in aluminum components, like radiators and cylinder heads, at an alarming rate. Corrosion can eat through an aluminum radiator until coolant leaks on the ground.
At the very least, drivers in the perfect climate still need to add corrosion inhibitors to straight water to properly cool an engine.
In fact, many racers do this with good results; racetracks typically don’t allow antifreeze & coolant since leaks are difficult to clean up and make the track slippery.
A good antifreeze & coolant hits the mark
A high-quality antifreeze & coolant contains the chemistry needed to deliver protection against freezing, boil-over and corrosion.
A word of caution, however: Avoid the conventional “green” coolants readily found at parts stores and other retailers.
They contain inorganic salts (phosphate, nitrate, nitrite, silicate, borate, amine), which are responsible for almost all cooling-system scaling problems.
AMSOIL antifreeze/coolants, on the other hand, deliver durable, long-lasting cooling-system protection.
So, why use coolant additives?
If a good antifreeze & coolant works so well, why bother with coolant additives that promise reduced engine temperatures and added corrosion resistance?
Because racers, competitors and enthusiasts want every advantage they can get to enhance engine performance. And a good coolant additive can provide that edge.
Reduced engine temperatures
An engine has a temperature “sweet spot” in which it produces maximum power and efficiency. Excessive heat reduces efficiency. It can cause metal parts to expand too much and contact each other, causing wear.
Competitors have a big incentive to tame extreme engine temperatures to protect their expensive engines and maximize their chances to win.
A good coolant additive can help by reducing the surface tension of water and allowing it to more efficiently absorb and transfer heat from the engine.
What are surfactants?
Coolant additives use chemicals called surfactants.
When water is agitated or heated, surface tension holds bubbles together before they burst. Since bubbles are filled with air, they reduce the water’s heat-transfer ability.
Imagine thousands of bubbles in the coolant passages of your engine as it runs. Eliminating these bubbles will allow the water to more closely contact metal, increasing its ability to absorb heat, thereby reducing operating temperatures and increasing efficiency.
Surfactants reduce the water and antifreeze’s surface tension so it can more effectively absorb and transfer heat from the engine.
Many leading coolant additives, however, contain only one surfactant, limiting their temperature ranges and effectiveness.
AMSOIL DOMINATOR Coolant Boost uses three surfactants, each designed to operate in a different temperature range to increase liquid-to-metal contact from the time the vehicle starts to the time it reaches operating temperature.
As a result, it reduces engine temperatures up to 25°F (14ºC) in straight-water applications.
This helps racers and competitors achieve maximum efficiency and horsepower.
Faster engine warm up
More efficiently transferring engine heat also helps DOMINATOR Coolant Boost warm the engine up to 54% faster.
Racers appreciate this since they waste less fuel warming their engines.
DOMINATOR Coolant Boost also delivers outstanding corrosion protection. In industry standard testing, it limited corrosion to the six metals most commonly found in cooling systems (copper, solder, brass, steel, cast iron and cast aluminum), easily passing both tests.
Editor Note: – This is being posted late but that’s alright as AMSOIL’s year starts now in August when things really get started for us – Summer maintenance and in northern climates not far is the season to wrap things up for winter.
As we near the end of yet another decade, we here at AMSOIL are reflecting upon a year of product development, corporate partnerships and the promise of continued success as we head into 2020.
Take a walk down memory lane with us in this installment of the 2019 AMSOIL Year in Review: Product & Company News.
We kicked off the year with further immersion into the wind-turbine market.
AMSOIL products are now installed in nearly 50 percent of all wind turbines in the U.S. along with more in Europe, China, India, Brazil and others. This initiative further validates the protection and performance of AMSOIL lubricants in the most demanding operating conditions.
Several manufacturers now use AMSOIL as their OEM factory fill.
This new product combines superior detergency and improved lubricity while increasing horsepower and cetane up to 8 points. Oh, and it won a prestigious award before the end of the year, too. More on that below.
In store here in Sioux Falls it’s become a hit!! Available at Stan Houston’s too.
It delivers excellent viscosity control, extended drain intervals and 6X better wear protection than required by the Detroit Diesel DD13 Scuffing Test for Specification DFS93K222.
That’s very techy, we know, but it means we exceed the highest standards.
AMSOIL revamps its powersports Product Guides, making up one of just two such guides available in the industry.
Due to the high level of research and maintenance such guides require, most lubricant and filter companies take a hard pass on offering this kind of tool.
The AMSOIL Product Guides deliver recommendations for more than 225 different equipment brands and nearly 180,000 components across all spectrums of the powersports industry.
Whatever your application, if you’re in need of an AMSOIL product recommendation, find it here.
The 2019 AMSOIL Direct Jobber Convention takes place in Scottsdale, Ariz.
AMSOIL President & CEO Alan Amatuzio and other corporate staff mingled with AMSOIL Direct Jobbers for training, networking and an Arizona luau topped off with a fireworks display. Good times were had by all with attendees gaining invaluable knowledge and motivation to grow their AMSOIL businesses.
This premium gasoline fuel additive delivers 18 percent more lubricity than Lucas* and 20 percent more than Sea Foam* for better retention of horsepower and fuel economy¹.
¹Based on independent testing of AMSOIL Upper Cylinder Lubricant, Lucas Upper Cylinder Lubricant and Sea Foam Motor Treatment obtained on 02/13/2019 using the ASTM D6079 modified for use with gasoline.
Selected as one of the winning products from more than 500 entries, Indian journalist Aatish Mishra of Motor Sport IndiaMagazine chose this product with the following sentiments in mind:
“Diesel passenger cars are immensely popular in India, and a lot of enthusiasts like to tune up their diesel-engine cars,” said Mishra of his selection. “A product like what AMSOIL has showcased would go down well with this group of people. It would provide them better quality fuel and allow their cars to run better.”
This covers the notable company and product highlights from the final year of the decade, and what a great one it was.
Stay tuned for a recap of our exciting racing and event highlights from our resident expert, Race & Events Coordinator Lindsay Premo.
Research into alternatives to petroleum oils began long before Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939. But not until WWII choked off Germany’s crude-oil supplies and dramatically revealed petroleum oil’s failings on the front lines did a clear incentive to develop synthetic oil emerge and the history of synthetic oil begin to take shape.
Coincidentally, as Germany’s soldiers went backward on the battlefield, its scientists drove synthetic-oil technology forward in the laboratory. More than two decades later, a fighter pilot from Duluth, Minn., would take up the mantle and bring synthetic oil to the automotive world.
Here’s the story of how a technology forged in the world’s bloodiest conflict arrived in the vehicles we drive today.
The failure of conventional oil
Much must have weighed heavily on the minds of German and Russian soldiers as Germany’s 6th Army besieged Stalingrad, Russia on Aug. 23, 1942. Hitler had targeted the industrial city since it produced artillery and served as an important shipping route to the country’s eastern regions. Perhaps as importantly, he prized the city because it bore the name of his adversary – Joseph Stalin.
Maybe the Germans were thinking about their defeat earlier that winter in a failed attempt to take Moscow. Maybe the Russians had in mind Hitler’s proclamation that, upon taking Stalingrad, he’d have all the city’s men killed and its women deported.
Whatever the case, surely none of the soldiers or civilians had petroleum oil and its propensity to solidify in the cold on their minds.
However, as the fighting wore on through the winter, petroleum oil’s shortcomings emerged as one of several reasons the Germans lost the Battle of Stalingrad.
Despite early gains by Germany throughout the late summer and fall, the Russians refused to surrender. By late November, they’d trapped what was left of Germany’s 6th Army in a defensive ring around the city. Then Russia’s brutal winter set in. Hitler refused to surrender even as his soldiers slowly starved and ran out of provisions. Adding to the catastrophe, the army’s tanks, aircraft and other military vehicles refused to start due to petroleum oil solidifying in the bitter cold.
The battle ended in February 1943 as Hitler’s first publicly acknowledged failure of the war. It signaled a major defeat for the Axis powers. And it provided dramatic evidence of the inadequacy of petroleum motor oil to perform in temperature extremes.
The history of synthetic oil
Decades before the Battle of Stalingrad, scientists had been searching for an alternative to petroleum oil. In fact, French chemist Charles Friedel and his American collaborator, James Mason Crafts, first produced synthetic hydrocarbon oils in 1877, marking the first notable achievement on the timeline of synthetic oil history.
In 1913, German scientist Friedrich Bergius developed a hydrogenation process for producing synthetic oil from coal dust. Twelve years later, his countrymen, Franz Fisher and Hans Tropsch, developed a process for converting a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen into liquid hydrocarbons.
In America, meanwhile, Standard Oil Company of Indiana tried to commercialize synthetic oil in 1929, but lack of demand doomed the attempt. That didn’t stop Standard Oil researcher F.W. Sullivan from publishing a paper in 1931 that disclosed a process for the polymerization of olefins to form liquid products.
At about the same time, German chemist Hermann Zorn independently discovered the same process. Their discoveries laid the groundwork for the eventual widespread use of synthetic oil.
For the time being, however, conventional petroleum oil remained the dominant technology.
The distillation process used to make conventional lubricants hasn’t changed much since then. Formulators start with crude oil, which contains wax and a mishmash of elements, such as sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen and various metals.
Many materials inherent to crude oil must be removed through refinement to increase the oil’s usability. Refiners do this by applying heat, pressure and other catalysts to separate crude oil into different groups, called fractions. Further processing results in many of the products we use today, such as kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel and lubricating oils used to make conventional motor oil.
The limitations of distillation
As soldiers on the front lines discovered, however, conventional lubricants have inherent limitations.
Distillation cannot completely remove impurities detrimental to lubrication, such as waxes that solidify in the cold and prevent engines from starting. Nor can it remove the lighter, unstable molecules that evaporate due to high heat. The extreme conditions of warfare exposed the limitations of conventional oil. It became obvious the world needed a better oil, and the history of synthetic oil began to take shape.
To illustrate, think of crude oil like a pile of LEGO blocks haphazardly connected to form various shapes of different sizes. Each block represents a different molecule, including elements such as carbon, sulfur, nitrogen or oxygen.
Distillation separates the blocks into piles based on size. Larger blocks form a pile, medium blocks form another pile and so on. Each pile is analogous to a crude-oil fraction. The fraction containing smaller, lighter molecules is used to make products like kerosene and gasoline. Larger molecules become tar. Medium molecules become products that include base oils.
Distillation cannot prevent irregular molecules or molecules unsuited for lubrication from contaminating the fraction intended for lubricating oils, reducing the finished product’s performance.
Synthetics are built, not distilled
The process used to make synthetic oil solves this problem by removing contaminants. Formulators start with a crude-oil fraction, or a pile of LEGO blocks to continue the analogy. They use different chemical processes to “crack” the blocks into individual LEGO bricks, deconstructing each larger molecule into its constituent parts. They’re left with different molecules, like LEGO bricks spread out on a table.
They select only the pure, uniform materials best suited for lubricating an engine, which is typically ethylene when manufacturing synthetic lubricants. Using organic synthesis, chemists use ethylene to build larger molecules, called alphaolefins. Then they use alphaolefins to build polyalphaolephins (PAO). “Poly” simply means “many.” The final product is a PAO synthetic base oil used to make synthetic motor oil.
By building the finished product from only pure, uniform molecules, synthetic oils remain fluid in sub-zero cold for easier starts and better startup protection, resist evaporation in extreme heat, provide better wear protection and last longer. Given their superiority, it’s easy to see why synthetics had been gaining popularity even before the war.
But the tipping point didn’t come until the war choked off supplies of petroleum oil to several countries, notably Germany, France and Japan. The Stalingrad disaster coupled with lack of crude oil forced Nazi Germany to undertake an intense effort to find alternatives to petroleum oil. Zorn and his colleagues investigated a wide range of synthetic base-fluid chemistries, many originating from coal and other bio-based sources. Germany evaluated more than 3,500 synthetic esters between 1938 and 1944, a key development in the history of synthetic oil. Their superior performance made them the focus of Germany’s synthetic-lubricant technology during the closing years of the war.
In America, meanwhile, W.A. Zinsman led a more limited research program into synthetics at the Naval Research Laboratory between 1942 and 1945. The result was the development of the first diester synthetic base oils, a notable contribution to synthetic oil history.
Synthetics take flight
The increased performance demands of aircraft engines helped drive development of synthetic oil during the war. But the emergence of aviation gas turbine engines at the end of WWII and during the post-war era brought synthetics to the forefront. Conventional oils were incapable of providing the extreme-temperature protection required of jet aircraft. Only synthetics could deliver the protection needed to withstand supersonic flight.
Born to fly
One person who’d come to understand this firsthand was Al Amatuzio, Lieutenant Colonel and squadron commander in the Minnesota Air National Guard. Stationed in Duluth, Minn., Amatuzio had experienced the benefits of synthetic lubricants in his squadron’s jet aircraft.
Amatuzio had taken an interest in aviation from a young age as he watched the Sikorsky mail plane fly over his neighborhood on its way to Lake Superior’s St. Louis Bay. At 12, a short ride in a Piper Cub cemented his love of aircraft.
In 1942, Amatuzio answered America’s call during WWII. He attended Naval Air Corps training until the Navy closed the program. After the war and eager to again pursue his dream of flying, Amatuzio joined the Air Force. He helped usher in the era’s new jet-aircraft technology by flying the F80 Shooting Star.
“If it works that well in aircraft…?”
Seeing synthetic oil in action, Amatuzio wondered why it wasn’t used in automobile engines. He reasoned that the same performance benefits could be applied to the vehicles and equipment people depended on every day for work and fun.
When Amatuzio began researching synthetic oil in the 1960s, motor oil quality was poor and engines didn’t last long.
Then-modern oils were susceptible to breakdown in high heat and contributed greatly to hard-starting in cold weather. Oil industry giants thought conventional oils were good enough and thought synthetic oil was unnecessary for passenger cars.
Amatuzio undertook an intense period of research and development. He experimented with various formulations. He studied chemistry and learned about additives. In 1966, Amatuzio had formulated his first synthetic motor oil. To test his formulation, he asked one of his pilots to use it in his brand-new 1966 Ford station wagon.
Throughout the late 1960s, Amatuzio continued to develop and sell synthetic oils under a variety of names. By 1968, he was commercially selling his synthetic motor oil. He incorporated “Life-Lube, Inc.” on May 23, 1969 and continued to commercially sell various synthetic motor oil formulations.
By 1970, Amatuzio had settled on a single formulation and had renamed his company “AMZOIL” – an amalgamation of his name and “oil” – which he’d later change to “AMSOIL.”
Still serving in the Air National Guard, Amatuzio ran his company in his spare time, working from his basement and warehousing product in his garage.
His financial resources, however, didn’t match his energy, and he nearly bankrupted himself leading his fledgling company. Since no one believed in his idea, no one would lend him money. And few motorists were willing to pay for synthetic motor oil no matter how profound its performance benefits since it cost several times more than conventional motor oil.
The world’s first API-qualified synthetic motor oil
The omission of two important sets of letters on each can of oil also slowed sales: API and SAE. To earn the trust of motorists, AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil needed to meet the industry performance standards established by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).
In 1972, Amatuzio sent AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil to an accredited third-party laboratory, where it was subjected to a battery of industry tests. The result? AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil became the world’s first synthetic motor oil to meet API service requirements. It outperformed conventional petroleum motor oils on all counts, heralding a new age in lubricant performance and engine life while marking a landmark achievement in the history of synthetic oil.
Resistant to change
From day one, synthetic motor oil was foreign to the Big Oil companies and automotive manufacturers of the time.
AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil was guaranteed for 25,000 miles/one year, and other oil companies viewed such performance as detrimental to continuous sales. They didn’t want synthetic oil, nor did they believe cars needed it. They were satisfied with the status quo, and Amatuzio was ridiculed for peddling his “fake oil.”
Eventually Mobil, the king of the oil industry, acquiesced and introduced its synthetic oil in 1974. The automotive industry also slowly warmed up to synthetic motor oil’s benefits. Largely in response to the energy crisis of the late 1970s, automakers began to introduce smaller, hotter-running, highly efficient engines that delivered more power and greater fuel economy than their predecessors. Synthetic lubricants gained popularity thanks to their ability to withstand the intense heat, pressure and stress of modern high-tech engines. Chevron introduced a synthetic oil in 1990, while Valvoline followed suit in 1992. Eventually, every major oil manufacturer introduced a synthetic oil of its own.
The same companies that had deemed conventional oil “good enough” a few decades earlier soon embraced synthetic lubricants as an enabler of higher levels of performance not thought of years before.
Hall of fame induction
The seismic shift in thinking, however, started three decades earlier when Amatuzio wondered why we weren’t using synthetic oil in our cars and trucks and set to work changing the status quo. His contributions to the synthetic-lubricant industry were validated in 1994 when he was inducted into the Lubricants World Hall of Fame, an honor that confirmed his status as a pioneer and thought-leader. His company had grown into a world leader in synthetics and had since introduced several other industry firsts to the market, including the first synthetic gear lube for automotive use, the first synthetic diesel oil and the first 100:1 synthetic two-stroke oil.
Today, more than 50 years after Amatuzio began commercially selling synthetic motor oil, AMSOIL INC. has solidified its status as the premier manufacturer of synthetic lubricants in the world. AMSOIL products are available in more than 60 countries, lubricate approximately half the wind turbines in North America and represent the only choice of millions of discerning enthusiasts across the U.S. and Canada.
I Drive Aggressive: Is Racing Oil a better choice for my Daily Driver?
Motorists who are passionate about engine protection and performance can easily succumb to the following line of reasoning:
1) Racing engines are more severe than my engine.
2) Racing engines use racing oil.
3) Therefore, I should use racing oil in my vehicle for best protection.
It’s true that the average racing engine creates operating conditions more severe than the average passenger car engine. However, that’s not to say that modern engines aren’t tough on oil, too.
Increased heat and stress
The turbocharged, direct-injection engines in modern vehicles generate increased heat and contaminants compared to their predecessors. Motor oil bears the brunt of the added stress. That’s why industry motor-oil specifications keep growing tougher and automakers are increasingly recommending synthetic oils to meet these strict performance specs.
Racing creates tougher operating conditions
Racing, however, is a whole different animal. The powerful, modified engines in racing vehicles produce extreme heat and pressures beyond the capabilities of the average car or truck. A 900-hp Pro 4×4 off-road racing truck can produce engine temperatures of more than 300ºF (149ºC). Engine temperatures in a typical passenger car/light truck fall somewhere between 195ºF and 220ºF (90ºC – 104ºC). The difference is even more striking when you consider that the rate of motor oil oxidation (chemical breakdown) doubles for every 18ºF (10ºC) increase in oil temperature.
The tremendous shearing forces the oil bears as it’s squeezed between the interfaces of the pistons/rings and cam lobes/lifters pose another problem. The pressure can tear apart the molecular structure of the oil, reducing its viscosity and film strength.
Why? For starters, racing oils are changed frequently. Most professionals change oil every couple races, if not more frequently. For that reason, racing oils are formulated with a lower total base number (TBN) than passenger car motor oils. TBN is a measure of the oil’s detergency properties and its ability to neutralize acidic byproducts. Oils with longer drain intervals have higher TBNs. AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil features a TBN of 12.5 to enable its 25,000-mile/one-year drain interval. In contrast, DOMINATOR Synthetic Racing Oil has a TBN of 8 since it should be changed more frequently. As great as it performs on the track, DOMINATOR is not what you want in your engine when you’re driving thousands of miles and several months between oil changes.
Second, you want to use an oil in your daily driver that excels in several performance areas:
Long oil life
Maximum fuel economy
Easy cold-temp starts
Motor oil additives produce many of these benefits. For example, anti-oxidant additives fight high heat and extend oil service life. Anti-wear additives interact with the metal surfaces of engine parts and guard against metal-to-metal contact. Many additives form layers on metal surfaces. That being the case, they compete for space, so to speak.
Racing oils use different additives
Racing oils are often formulated with a heavy dose of friction modifiers to add lubricity for maximum horsepower and torque. The boosted level of additives meant to increase protection and performance during a race doesn’t leave room in the formulation for additives found in passenger car motor oils that help maximize fuel economy, fight corrosion or improve cold-weather protection.
Achieving the tasks of a passenger car motor oil requires a finely balanced formulation. Too much or too little performance in one area can negatively affect other areas – and the oil’s overall protection and performance. The list of tasks required of a racing oil, however, is much shorter.
The right tool for the right job is an axiom with which most are familiar. The same holds for motor oil. It’s best to leave racing oil to competition engines and use a properly formulated passenger car motor oil for your daily vehicle.