Naphthenic oils fit these specifications like a key fits in the ignition – as explained by Valentina Serra-Holm and Marika Joona, who are both Technical Managers at Nynas Naphthenics. The automotive industry uses naphthenic oils in, for example, cutting fluids during metalworking, lubricating oils and greases and as extender oil in tyres.
"The chemical composition and properties of naphthenic oils have proved to provide the answer to many challenges that today's automotive industry and its suppliers are working to solve," explains Serra-Holm. "Today's technology for the production of naphthenic oils has raised both quality and environmental friendliness and we clearly see how our product development is well in tune with the new demands being placed on the automotive industry." The intense competition within the industry means that companies need an ever-increasing pace of production with minimal interruptions. But combined with this the demands of both consumers and regulations require a reduction in harmful emissions into the external environment and good working conditions within production facilities.
"Naphthenic oils answer all these demands," confirms Joona. "Our modern method of production – hydro treatment - has not only increased the quality level of naphthenic oils, but at the same time has less impact on the environment." Both Serra-Holm and Joona confirm that continually improving production efficiency is without a doubt a prerequisite for survival in the global industrial society of today and the foreseeable future. Those who miss out on any aspect of technological development will be mercilessly punished by losing market share and profits.
"But global industry is also increasingly merciless towards those who don't keep up with the legal and political demands that are being made by powerful actors such as the EU, NAFTA or ASEAN," continues Joona. "In less than three years, for example, it will be illegal to market tyres in Europe that have a high polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) content. This is an area where naphthenic oils provide an efficient and tried-and-tested solution."
Joona and Serra-Holm list the properties of Nynas products that they feel make them so interesting as components in production systems in the automotive industry:
- According to the internationally established test method IP 346, all Nynas naphthenic products are well under the threshold beyond which they need to be labelled as carcinogenic. There is, in other words, no risk of being hit by restrictions on use on this account, regardless of where in the world production takes place.
- High solvency and high compatibility with other chemicals, for example additives, make naphthenic oils highly usable components in the production of tailor-made cutting oils or other processing fluids. This also applies to the production of tyres, where high solvency naphthenic oils contribute to a high compatibility with polymers.
- Stability to oxidation and other types of chemical degradation mean that naphthenic products contribute to stable and efficient production, with high availability.
- The fact that they form stable emulsions enables creation of efficient cutting fluids with high heat-conducting ability for today's ever faster metalworking processes.
- A low polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) content means that the use of naphthenic oils in tyres does not give rise to any environmental or legal problem anywhere in the world on account of the effects of tyre wear on ground water.
- Naphthenic products have extremely good low temperature properties. This has, among other things, been of decisive importance for use in lubricating oils and greases, where they contribute to greater assurance of operation and better fuel economy.
- Low levels of sulphur and nitrogen are advantageous when it comes to emissions into the environment.
"Added to all of this is the advantage that Nynas Naphthenics is a global company," adds Serra-Holm, "The global automotive industry, which works with the same processes in various parts of the world, wants to be able to use the same global formulae wherever. This requires access to oils with the same specifications, a need that Nynas is well-placed to satisfy."
Naphthenic oils are mineral oils produced from naphthenic crude oils and generally have a paraffinic carbon content of less than 55-60%. They are normally wax-free and contain no N-alkanes. By API Classification naphthenic oils belong to Group V Base Oils.
To differentiate naphthenic from intermediate or paraffinic crude sources, we normally use other characteristics as shown in Table 1.
Table 1. A comparison of some key characteristics of various oil types.
|Paraffinic carbon (IR)
|Example of crude source
||Venezuela, Canada, western Texas
||USA, North Sea