CONVENTIONAL VS SYNTHETIC MOTOR OIL – How it Works | SCIENCE GARAGE


– Ohh, there’s nothing like the excitement of a high revving engine. (engine whirring) But that’s metal on metal, how do you protect it? And what’s the difference between a conventional and synthetic oils? That’s why I’m talking about oils! (introduction music) Synthetic oil versus conventional
oil ultimate showdown. (bell dings) This week we’re talking
about that good old bubbling crude…oil that is! Black gold, texas tea. Look, oil is the one thing
your car needs to make it work. Well, that’s actually not true. It needs that and gas
and electricity and love. But why does your car crave it? Like I crave compliments. Oil is an essential lubricant
in your engine that lets the metal come in close
contact to other metal without causing damage. Sounds hot. Without oil, metal-on-metal
friction would create so much heat that eventually the
surfaces would weld themselves together and the engine would seize. That sometimes happens! If you’re a dummy who forgets
to put oil in your engine. You dipstick. Alright, so inside the
engine there’s a system to get that oil where it needs to go. So, here’s a simple breakdown. There’s an oil pan and that holds the oil. That’s where it sits. The oil pump gets driven
by the engine and it pumps the oil all around. First the pump draws the
oil through a strainer, so it can pump it. And after the pump is an oil
pressure regulator that makes sure there’s not too much pressure. Then the oil gets to the
oil filter that we all know and love. That filter is designed
to allow maximum oil flow while filtering our particles
that could interfere with the engine. The filtered oil
then pumped through holes in the crank shaft, and main
berring to lubricate them. An oil spout shoots the oil
up to the pistons cylinder, so everything moving is
lubed up in there too! There’s as many variations
of this as there is engine configurations, but in the end, if it’s in the engine there’s
a way we’re getting oil on it. Let’s quickly talk temp. Hot oil can get into
more nooks and crannies because it’s thinner. But, too hot then oil is
too thin and won’t protect. So, some cars send the
oil through an oil cooler before it gets back to the pan. Now, your engine has plenty of
oil, but you never change it. Dirt would accumulate in
all the oil and the filter would remove it for a while,
but eventually the filter would clog and the dirty oil would
automatically bypass the filter through a release valve. Dirty oil is thick, and abrasive,
and that causes more wear Think about putting
sand in your underpants. Also, additives in the oil
like detergents, dispersants, and rust-fighters and friction
reducers wear out over time so the oil wouldn’t lubricate
as well as it should. Eventually, as the oil
gets dirtier and dirtier, it stops lubricating and the engine fails. So, that’s why you have
to change your oil! Because if you don’t, bad things happen. I know from experience of reading about it because I wouldn’t make that mistake. Motor oil is made from the
same stuff as gasoline. Crude oil contains hydrocarbons
and other organic compounds. Basically, a naturally
occurring yellow to black liquid found in geological formations
beneath the Earth’s surface. It’s buried underneath sedimentary
rock where intense heat and pressure has transformed
dead organic organisms, usually plankton and algae,
into a mixture of many different chemicals that can be used
in all sorts of products. The name petroleum covers
both naturally occurring unprocessed crude oil and
petroleum products that are made up of refined crude oil. At a refinery, the raw crude
oil is processed by chemical solvents and heated to
precise temperatures to extract chemicals that’s
then mixed with additives to make motor oils. So what’s the oil you put in your car? Conventional oil is a mixture
of base oil, which is the refined oils made from petroleum,
and then some additives. Some common additives are dispersants, that helps it spray better. Detergents, that help it clean better. Anti-wear additives, that make
sure it’s not too abrasive. Friction modifiers to help it lube better Antioxidants to keep it from wearing out. Anti-foam additives to keep
bubbles from building up in it. Corrosion inhibitors to keep
the metal in your engine shiny. Viscosity index improver
to help keep it thick when it needs to be. And of course, love. Because the main job of motor
oil is to act as a lubricant, one of the most important
properties of a motor oil is viscosity. The viscosity
of a liquid essentially means thickness. Basically,
the measure of it’s resistance to flow. According to the
automotive and industrial lubricants glossary of terms,
viscosity is ordinarily expressed in terms of the
time required for a standard quantity of the fluid at a
certain temperature to flow through a standard orifice. The higher the value, the
more viscous the fluid. Since viscosity varies
inversely with temperature, it’s value is meaningless,
unless a company by the temperature at which it’s
viscosity was determined. With motor oils, the viscosity
is now commonly reported in centistokes, measured at either
40 degrees celsius or 100 degrees celsius. So, like I said, the viscosity
must be high enough to maintain a lubricating film,
but low enough that the oil can flow round the engine
parts in all conditions. You know, I have a lubricating film. It premieres this year at Sunday’s. Motor oil’s viscosity has
to be low enough that it’ll flow when cool, but not so
low that it fails to lubricate at high temperatures. Most pure petroleum lubricants
are newtonian fluids. In recent years, engineers
have discovered that adding certain carbon polymers to
petroleum lubricants will give them non-newtonian characteristics. This makes them much better
at protecting a car engine under a wide range of conditions. Those polymers are called
viscosity modifiers and motor oil makers have learned to add
just the right combination of viscosity modifiers to create
lubricants that flow easily at very low temperatures
while maintaining enough viscosity to lubricate the
moving parts of an engine at very high temperatures. At cold temperatures, the
polymers are coiled up and allow the oil to flow as
their low numbers indicate. As the oil warms up, the
polymers begin to unwind into long chains that prevent the
oil from thinning as much as it usually would. So, those numbers on a quart
of oil refer to oil viscosity. Basically, on a scale established by the Society of Automotive
Engineers, or SAE, man, those dudes really know how to party. The scale rates oil from a
low of five, to a high of 50. Five being thinnest, 50 being thickest. As you’ve probably noticed,
most automobile motor oils have got two numbers. These are multi-grade
oils, which means they’re non-newtonian fluids. Take that Newton! What those numbers are 5W-30,
10W-40, is a description of the way the oil behaves
at cool temperatures. Winter, W, verus operating temperatures. So, rather than saying the
viscosity at a given temp, it says what way oil
behaves like at that temp. 5W-30, at start-up, even
in sub-zero temperatures, this oil will behave
like a five weight oil. That means it behaves like a thinner oil with a lower viscosity. When the engine gets up to
210, the 5W-30 oil behaves like a 30 weight oil, a thicker
oil with a greater viscosity. It doesn’t mean it is thicker
at operating temperatures, it just means it behaves like
a thicker oil would behave at operating temperatures. Got it? It acts like a thin oil when it’s cold, and it acts like a
thick oil when it’s hot. It does get thinner as it warms, but it does so at a different rate. Since the design of each
engine is different, from the widths of its
nooks and crannies to what temperatures it can reach,
car manufacturers will suggest a certain viscosity range
from each of their engines. That’s why you should
always the engine oil weight that’s recommended by your
vehicle’s manufacturer, in the owners manual. That being said, most manuals
will recommend a range of oils that take into account how
harsh your winters might be and whether you’ll be putting
extra stress on your engine by towing or hauling an extra load. Like your mom’s chair. There’s no one-size-fits-all
answer to motor oil selection. Just be sure to consult your
manual and choose the oil grade that matches how you
drive for best possible engine protection. There’s also this little
thing called synthetic motor oils out there. Remember those power mad
scientist I mentioned earlier that play God by adding carbon polymers to petroleum lubricants? They are making what’s
called synthetic motor oil. Synthetic motor oil is a
similar but different mixture of base oils and additive
components that generally lasts longer, performs better, at
higher and lower temperatures than conventional motor oils. The American Petroleum Institute
divides oil types into five groups. Three are conventional
motor oils and two are made up of various types of synthetics. Synthetic oils often use a
combination of up to three different synthetic base fluids
including synthetic esters, polyolefin, and alkylated aromatics. So where in the heck do these
synthetic oils come from? Synesthesia? Space? Was it
space? Did it come from Space? Close! Germany. Germans created the first
synthetic oils for aircraft engines during World War Two. Soon, they were used by
both Germany and The U.S. By using the mix of adipic acid
ester with polyethylene oil the engines could start
easier in the winter, and it eliminated sot
deposits in the oil radiator. Synthetics continued to be
used in aircraft and in large hauling vehicles over the next
few decades, and eventually made their way into car racing engines. In 1966, French company
Motul released century 2100, the first semi-synthetic car lubricant. In 1971, Motul release century 300V, the first 100% synthetic car oil. iN 1972, AMZOIL brought
synthetics to the U.S. with it’s 10W-40 synthetic motor oil. The next year Mobil 1 followed suit. A few decades later this
show came along and about four minutes from now
the ending will happen. Please like and subscribe. Alright, let me go get some synthetic oil. – Another episode, huh? – Yeah, I’m doing one on oils.
There’s a lot of oils here. I think I’m just going to get
the full synthetic Benzoil. – Yeah, that’s pretty good. You know, if you buy five
quarts you get a free oil filter over here. – Yeah, I mean really
I’m just doing the show I just need to oil so. – Yeah, you got to change your
oil sometime though, right? You don’t want to have to
make three trips, do you? – Yeah, alright, let’s get a filter. Thank you Anthony. – You’re welcome. You got a funnel? (lively music) – Oh yeah! (items crashing) Alright we’re going to
do some demonstration. We got a couple different kinds of oil, we got some canola,
and grandma’s molasses. One test for viscosity involves
letting oil drip through a small hole, and the more
quickly it drips, the less viscous it is. We’re going
to use these two little ramps though so you can see
it with your cute little eyeballs. Hey Nolan, would would you
let me borrow your hands? Could you time this for me? So this is the 0W-60 full synthetic and this is a traditional 0W-40. Whoa! – The faster oil, the thinner
oil, did it in 1.57 seconds. And the thicker oil
did it in 2.27 seconds. – And then we can just add it
on screen and edit Nolan out. Alright this is canola
oil and this is molasses. – [Man] And the purpose of this is? – To demonstrate how thick and
tasty grandma’s molasses is Grandma’s molasses,
perfect on your cooking. – Wow. – Yeah, that slower than
molasses in the winter. Did you hear that phrase? – Ah, yeah. – You’re pretty folksy, I
thought you would’ve heard of that phrase. What we got? – I totally (bleeped) up. – Good. Did you time this one? – This one, 14 seconds for
the molasses to go down. – How much for the canola? – About probably like
three quarters of a second. – The difference between
synthetic oil and conventional oil is in the molecular structure. In conventional oil, the
molecules come from organic, natural materials, and as
we know, nature isn’t always consistent, so there can
sometimes be a few odd ball molecules in conventional oils. Even a super high-quality
conventional motor oil won’t have completely uniform molecules. Some of those tiny inconsistencies
can create friction over time. Synthetic on the other hand
are created by scientists in a lab. So, where as conventional oils
contain molecules of varying size, the molecular structures
in synthetics are consistent in mass and shape. This uniformity means that
those molecules create less friction as they collide
and less less friction means less heat. So what does
this all even mean? Well basically, compared
to standard motor oil, synthetics can withstand
higher temperatures and can flow more easily
in cold temperatures. Synthetic oil also takes
longer to break down. It does it’s job better even
after it’s been used a while Compared to conventional oil. Also, if you live in a region
with very cold winters or very hot summers, or if you
use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy materials,
synthetic oil won’t break down as quickly. Another great use of
synthetic oil is a salve for older engines that are
prone to sludge build-up. Gunky residue can block oil
passages and lead to a quick death of an engine. While conventional oil works,
synthetic oil outperformed them in almost every application. What’s the drawback? Well, they cost more. Like twice as much, but
they can last twice as long. So instead of changing your
oil every three to four thousand miles you can stretch
to six, seven, hey maybe fifteen thousand according
to some manufacturers. Also, if you don’t want to
fully commit to synthetic, well you can buy a blend. But you won’t get all of the
benefits that pure synthetic offers. But conventional oils
can’t stand up to synthetic when it comes to longevity and
the ability to handle extreme high temperatures without breaking down. Well, is there a difference
then in the environment? I mean, getting both still
involves highly criticized processes, and as you know,
you don’t dump oil that’s bad! But, since synthetics can last
as much as three times longer than conventional oil, then
that could save the disposal of 24 quarts of oil per year per car, and that’s a lot less pollution! Subscribe to Donut. We got a bunch of new stuff coming out, hit this little yellow button. You can check out other
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