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Chapter nine. Let’s start over.

We have seen that 0W-30, 5W-30, 10W-30 and straight 30 weight oils all have the exact same viscosity at 212 and 302 F. What about startup viscosities? Do 0W-20, 0W-30 , and 0W-40 all have the same viscosity at a 75 F startup. The answer is no. The SAE J300 standard allows for this discrepancy. Here are some examples:

..Viscosity at 75 F startup..

...0W-20.....0W-30.....0W-40

.....40............50...........60

The numbers are not exact but they show clearly that the ”0” represents different startup viscosities. This is unlike the 0W-30, 5W-30, 10W-30 and straight 30 weight oils that all have the exact same viscosity in a hot engine = 10 cS.

I would like to comment on the following statements made by a knowledgeable automotive enthusiast:

“Pressure and flow are tied together with viscosity, but none have anything to do with lubrication. Lubrication is a property of the fluid, not the force. The oil pump would pump water just as well, but it would offer no real lubrication. If we double the pressure, we double the flow. If you decrease the viscosity to a lighter oil, you increase flow at a loss of pressure. High flow helps to carry away more heat. High pressure helps to keep metal parts like the bearings out of contact with each other (scuffing).”

I give you the following example to help visualize what is happening. This assumes the oil has no internal resistance. In actuality doubling the pressure will not double the flow but will be slightly less. And thicker oils have more resistance than thinner oils for all situations. But simplified we get the following:

For a 30 wt oil at operating temperature:

RPM....Pressure..Flow

1,000......20 PSI....1

2,000......40 PSI....2

4,000......80 PSI....4

8,000... 160 PSI....8 The maximum flow because of the oil pop off valve at 90 PSI will be 5

For a 30 wt oil at operating temperature

and a higher output oil pump:

RPM....Pressure..Flow

1,000......30 PSI....1.5

2,000......60 PSI....3

4,000....120 PSI....6 The maximum flow because of the oil pop off valve at 90 PSI will be 5

8,000... 240 PSI....12

If we stick with the same weight oil and increase the oil pump output we will increase the pressure and the oil flow too. If we double the oil pump output we will double the pressure and we will double the oil flow (in an ideal system).

RPM....Pressure..Flow

1,000......40 PSI....2

2,000......80 PSI....4

4,000....160 PSI....8 The maximum flow because of the oil pop off valve at 90 PSI will be 5

8,000... 320 PSI....16

Let us compare a 40 wt oil at operating temperature:

The oil is thicker, has more internal resistance and therefore requires more pressure to get the same flow.

RPM....Pressure..Flow

1,000......30 PSI....1

2,000......60 PSI....2

4,000....120 PSI....4 The maximum flow because of the oil pop off valve at 90 PSI will be 3

8,000....240 PSI....8

For a 40 wt oil at operating temperature

and a higher output oil pump:

RPM....Pressure..Flow

1,000......45 PSI....1.5

2,000......90 PSI....3 The maximum flow because of the oil pop off valve at 90 PSI will be 3

4,000....180 PSI....6

8,000... 360 PSI....12

For a 40 wt oil at operating temperature

with the original pressures:

RPM....Pressure..Flow

1,000......20 PSI....0.5

2,000......40 PSI....1

4,000......80 PSI....2

8,000... 160 PSI....4 The maximum flow because of the oil pop off valve at 90 PSI will be 3

Increasing the pressure while using the same oil will increase the oil flow but increasing the pressure by increasing the oil thickness will result in less flow. It takes more pressure to move a thicker oil. When you go to a thicker oil the pressure goes up because of the increased resistance, and therefore reduction of flow.

There is more to these graphs but I will contiue with the next chapter.

Furthermore pressure does not equal lubrication. Let us look at a single closed “lifetime lubricated” bearing. We could hook up a system to pressurize the bearing. This can actually be done. We could have the oil at ambient pressure. We could then double, triple, quadruple the pressure of the oil. The oil is non-compressible. Regardless of the pressure we would have the exact same lubrication, that of the ambient pressure lubrication.

The physics of lubrication as I said earlier show a 1:1 relationship of flow to separation pressure. Lubrication itself is pressure independent. I will not go into the mathematical equations for this.

Even water can be used as a lubricant. This is partly because of its high surface tension. It is used in many medical devices and other systems that are under or exposed to water. It is just that water rusts metal parts making this unsuitable for automotive engines. It actually has a higher specific heat than oil. It can therefore carry away more heat than oil from bearing surfaces. In this respect water is a better lubricant than oil.

aehaas