Process Economics Program Report 125A
Synthetic Lubricant Base Stocks
Published: September 1989
Synthetic lubricants are prepared from man-made base stocks having uniform molecular structures and, therefore, well defined properties that can be tailored to specific applications. Mineral oil base stocks, on the other hand, are derived from crude oil and consist of complex mixtures of naturally occurring hydrocarbons. The higher degree of uniformity found in synthetic lubricants generally results in superior performance properties. In some very demanding applications, such as aircraft turbines, synthetic lubricants are used exclusively. For less demanding applications, such as automotive engine oils, synthetic lubricants must compete on a cost/performance basis against less expensive mineral oil-based lubricants.
This report is an update of PEP Report 125, Synthetic Lubricants (May 1979). As in that first report on the subject, this report evaluates the commercial processes for producing the following synthetic lubricant base stocks:
- Polyalphaolefins (1 -decene Oligomers)
- Neopolyol esters (technical pentaerythritol esters)
- Dibasic acid esters (diisodecyl adipate).
The particular base stocks used in our analyses are shown in parenthesis. In addition to updating the capital and production cost estimates for these processes, this report summarizes relevant patents issued since the publication of PEP Report 125. Information on the industry status of these and other synthetic lubricant base stocks is presented in Section 3. Appendices detail the design and cost bases, summarize product and raw material specifications, and present selected information from material safety data sheets.