Putting Polymers to Work for Improved Lubricant Performance


Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) remain very focused on achieving greater fuel economy and efficiency through several routes including reducing the weight of vehicles, evolving combustion engine technology and utilizing e-mobility. Combustion engine advances have been the greatest driver of change when it comes to lubricants. With lower speeds and higher torques, the entire powertrain requires lubricants to work harder to protect against wear and maintain efficiency. 

One area impacted by changes in driveline loads and speeds is axles. The additional stress—combined with possibly lower volumes of lubricant, reduced air circulation and high-temperature environments—can lead to compromised lubricant film strength.  Because of this, viscosity characteristics for lubricants have never been more important. As viscosity characteristics change under fluctuating temperature and operating conditions, maintaining stability and resistance to shear is vital. 

In today’s gear oil market, new viscosity grades are often required, especially those relating to viscosity at the critical operating temperature of the equipment. Thickeners and polymers are often necessary in gear oil formulations in order achieve viscosity requirements and ensure good shear stability. Common solutions in the industry today include:

Bright Stock

This is a traditional base oil often produced in group I base oil refineries.  Common viscosity grades which may utilize bright stock include SAE 80W-90 and SAE 85W-140.


PIB (Polyisobutylene)

Some of the wider cross-grade gear oils such as SAE 75W-85 may be formulated with quantities of thickeners based upon polyisobutylene.  


PAO (Polyalphaolefins)

These synthetic base oils are used for the most extreme viscosity and application challenges including SAE 75W-140 grades in certain automotive applications.


Introducing a Lubricant Thickener That Checks the Boxes for Performance, Handling and Cost


Afton Chemical’s latest portfolio of polymer solutions is designed to assist the formulation of a wide variety of driveline lubricants. Our customized polymer solutions enable OEMs to achieve the ideal balance of gear oil handling characteristics and cost. 

In particular, HiTEC® 33200 VII Shear Stable Gear Lubricant Polymer, our latest shear stable gear lubricant polymer, may be used to formulate a variety of lubricants. Many of the lubricants exceed industry standards and have approvals to meet SAE J 2360*. 

To download the PDS and learn more about HiTEC® 33200 VII Shear Stable Gear Lubricant Polymer, or for a tailored formulation recommendation, contact an Afton representative today.

*Manufacturers of commercial and military driveline components rely on this industry standard to define a minimum level of performance for use in the qualification of lubricating oils that are used in their equipment. SAE J2360 provides a consistent set of requirements for such qualification processes.

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