Lubricants are substances that are utilized to reduce the friction between the two moving or sliding surfaces. Main objective of the lubricant is to keep the two moving or sliding surfaces aside in order to decrease the friction and reduce the continuous destruction of materials. The process of reducing the friction between the two moving or sliding surfaces through the introduction of lubricants is called as lubrication. Key functions of lubricants are to reduce wear and tear of the surfaces by avoiding direct metal to metal contact, they acts as a coolant, it lowers down power loss in internal combustion engines. Lubricants are further categorized into three product segments such as synthetic lubricants, bio based lubricants and mineral based lubricants.
Synthetic lubricants are composed of synthetic base oil, thickeners and additives that provide oil lubricants and grease numerous performance advantages in comparison to the conventional mineral based lubricants. Synthetic oil is a lubricant comprising of chemical products that are produced artificially. They are manufactured from chemically modified petroleum products and can be synthesized from various raw materials. It provides superior mechanical and chemical properties to those found in traditional mineral oils. Synthetic oil acts as a substitute for lubricant refined from petroleum when operating in extreme temperatures. Aircraft jet engines need synthetic oils while aircraft piston engines do not. Synthetic lubricants are also utilized in metal stamping to provide environmental and other benefits when compared to conventional petroleum and animal fat based products.
Synthetic lubricants are segmented according to the type such as API Group IV and API Group V. Group IV base oils are called as Polyalphaolefins (PAO). These types of synthetic base oils are produced through a process called as synthesizing. They have very high temperature range and are mostly utilized in extreme cold conditions and high heat applications. Group V base oils are categorized as all other base oils comprising of phosphate ester, silicone, polyalkylene glycol (PAG), polyolester and biolubes. These base oils are at times mixed with other base stocks to enhance the property of oil’s. Esters are common Group V base oils used in different lubricant formulations to improve the properties of the existing base oil. Ester oils can easily sustain high temperatures and provides superior detergency compared to PAO synthetic base oil. PAG offers high quality lubricity, natural viscosity index and stable temperature. PAG base fluids are available in both water soluble and insoluble forms, and in a wide range of viscosity grades. They offer low volatility in high-temperature applications and can be used in low and high temperature environments. They are generally utilized as quenchants, metalworking fluids, and food-grade lubricants. They also find application in hydraulic and compressor equipments.
Technical advantages of synthetic lubricants are decreased evaporation loss, better chemical and shear stability, better lubrication during extreme cold weather conditions, improves fuel economy, high viscosity index, resistance to oxidation, thermal breakdown and oil sludge problems, better engine life, increased horsepower and torque due to less drag on vehicle engine.
Major drivers of the synthetic lubricant market are growing populations and developing economies. However, high operational cost to produce synthetic lubricants and potential decomposition problems in certain chemical environments can hamper the growth of the market. Ample opportunities are there for synthetic lubricant market as large numbers of industries are coming up in future.
Some of the key players in the business of synthetic lubricants are Exxon Mobil Corporation Ltd, Aerospace Lubricants Inc, Castrol India Ltd, Petronas Lubricants International, The Dow Chemical Company, Pennzoil Lubricants, Motul Lubricants, Lubrizol Corporation, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total Lubricants Ltd among others.
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