Although major oil companies discourage the need for a supplement additive in oil products, about 90% of forecourt retailers stock the basic supplements, owing to the average age of South African vehicles exceeding ten years.
Emissions are caused simply by incomplete combustion mainly in old or worn engines.
Tribologist Brent Lacey explains that this is commonly the result of oil slipping past worn, or gummed-up piston rings, into the combustion chamber and burning with the fuel, resulting in soot and carbon emissions, also called blow-by smoke. In the same way, fuel injectors also fall victim to clogging and resin deposits, disturbing their spray pattern.
However, by cleaning these resin and gum deposits with a reputable detergent fuel and oil additives and by increasing the viscosity of the oil, the results are a significant reduction in exhaust emission and improved performance and wear protection.
Improving the viscosity index (VI) of regular oil vastly improves the oil’s resistance to flow or thinning as temperature increases.
Owners of ageing vehicles could potentially extend the life span of their vehicle engines by adding appropriate oil additives to counter the symptoms of wear, when regular oil no longer can.
Although engine oils consist of base oils and additives to improve the oil’s performance, supplementary additives may provide an immediate, and often cost-effective, medium-term solution to engine wear, before sending an engine for a costly overhaul.
Lacey says that the average old age of vehicles on South Africa’s roads, combined with the fact that many vehicle owners do not have money to maintain their cars in pristine condition, result in an ageing fleet of private vehicles with reduced efficiencies and increased emissions, Lacey believes.
However, oil additives may be equated to medicine prescribed by a doctor for a certain ailment. Additives can reduce the oil blow-by effect in cylinders, which is the result of worn piston rings and cylinder sleeves, and causes smoke. Further, smoke in emissions can also be reduced with the use of additives, making vehicle fleets more environment-friendly.
Additives assist in resealing by expanding or swelling hardened seals and gaskets. Valve stem seals are a good example of engine parts that can be resealed through the use of appropriate oil additive packs, reducing that telltale puff of smoke on acceleration.
Meanwhile, Lacey notes that the metals in an engine gradually use up oil additives, leaving only the base oil. “To merely top up engine oil does not necessarily adequately readjust the additive levels in engines, resulting in reduced wear protection. An additive pack is better suited to help maintain oil quality,” he says.
Lacey believes that this is an excellent method of preemptive maintenance.
Further, petrochemicals additives also enable old vehicles to use unleaded fuel, by using a potassium-based supplement additive, while the performance of diesel engines can be improved through the addition of cerium, a substance that combines with soot to aid in more complete combustion and cleaner emissions.
However, Lacey reports that engine oil additives have acquired a negative stigma in South Africa, owing to commercial fly-by-night companies marketing additives that claim, among other things, to revolutionise engine performance.
He cautions that some of these additives have been found to contain harmful chemicals, such as chlorides and Teflon. “There may be initial benefits to using these additives, but after a period, the additive oxidises and transforms into harmful compounds. These may damage the engine and are harmful to the environment,” he says.
Wire Rope Lubrication Applicator
Meanwhile, Lacey is introducing a wire rope lubrication applicator to help protect cables from the corrosive marine environment.
The wire ropes on mining cables, cranes, dry-docking rigs at sea and fishing boats are often not adequately protected, owing to manually applied cheap grease.
The system, known as the Viper, is a collar system through which the cable runs. Inside the collar, the cable is lubricated with environment-friendly, biodegradable grease that assists in prolonging its life.