Valvoline’s latest premium engine oil not only works in diesel, natural gas, and gasoline engines; it also provides extended oil drain intervals for diesel and natural gas vehicles.
Two years ago, Valvoline introduced Premium Blue One Solution 9200, which it said was the first engine oil approved for use in natural gas, diesel, and gasoline engines. But no sooner had it announced the product than it started working on improving it.
The next generation of that oil, the new Premium Blue One Solution Gen2, is available now. Approved for use in multiple heavy duty, medium-duty, and light-duty engine types, it provides improved oxidation and thermal stability, in addition to extended drain intervals for both diesel and natural gas engine platforms.
The latest product of Valvoline’s 25-year relationship with Cummins, the new oil is the recommended product for Cummins’ current portfolio of products in North America. It is also the new factory fill engine oil for Cummins Natural Gas engines (ISX12 N, L9N, B6.7N) and the Cummins X15, X12, L9 and B6.7 diesel engines.
Premium Blue One Solution Gen2 is approved for oil drain interval extensions for specific Cummins diesel and natural gas engine platforms:
- A 5,000-mile drain interval extension in Cummins X15 and X12 diesel platforms across most duty cycles.
- A 500-hour drain interval extension in Cummins ISL G and L9N natural-gas platforms.
Premium Blue One Solution Gen2 also carries many OEM approvals, including CES 20092, CES 20086, EOS-4.5, VDS-4.5, DFS 93K222 and VI RLD-3. It meets or exceeds the requirements for other OEMs and is licensed for API service CK-4 and SP.
Designing One Oil to Rule Them All
Back in 2016, Valvoline and Cummins had been in discussions about the needs for Cummins’ natural gas engine platforms. “They had launched those and found the oils in the market were just not meeting their needs in terms of oil drain intervals and protecting the engines the way they wanted,” explained Jeff Torkelson, Valvoline’s senior technical director of commercial and industrial lubricants, in an interview. “So, they wanted a new product and specification to drive better-performing oils in the market for their natural gas engines. At the same time, we started looking at the opportunity of combining a natural gas and a diesel oil in one product.”
Ryan Denton, corporate chemical technology manager from Cummins, said, “We came to Valvoline several years ago saying we need to improve the quality of our natural gas oil, so we partnered together to release a Cummins specification." The new oil specification for natural-gas engines was CES 20092, and the project resulted in the first generation of this oil, Premium Blue One Solution 9200.
“We were happy with the launch and the product,” Torkelson said, “but after a while we were interested in looking at how much further we could push the envelope in terms of performance, and almost immediately started working on the new product we launched this year.”
As Denton explained, “I think we mutually, after seeing the success of [the first generation], wanted to take that to the next level and make it a top-tier product, so Cummins and Valvoline customers have a single oil that was top-performing that could strengthen maintenance logistics and give them the opportunity to improve [total cost of ownership].”
The Gen2 product also has an upgrade in its gasoline capability.
Designing a single oil for diesel, natural gas, and gasoline engines is no easy feat. Spark-ignited natural gas engines require some different things out of the engine oil than compression-ignition diesels, and gasoline-engine oils have still other requirements.
Because of the difference in the combustion chambers, Torkelson explained, natural gas engines tend to burn hotter than diesel and can be susceptible to ash deposits in the combustion chamber from the heat burning off the oil. That causes most pre-ignition or valve-guttering problems, he said.
As Denton explained, the hotter-burning engines also mean thermal degradation stress on the oil. “One of the main things an oil has to deal with in the engine is all the heat it’s exposed to, either from touching hot metal surfaces or from hot gases that are in the engine. They can lead to the oil oxidizing, or thermally degrading as we say it.” That oxidation/thermal breakdown is a big factor in determining how long the oil can stay in the engine.
In fact, Premium Blue One Solution Gen2 demonstrated the best oxidation performance measured by Cummins internal testing as part of the development of the CES 20092 oil specification.
“When it comes to modern diesel oils, because of the introduction of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel years ago, we’re really beginning to focus much heavier on oxidation performance,” Torkelson explained. “What we are seeing with this oil is we are getting better oxidation performance than we were seeing with our flagship product before. We are seeing some other benefits from it, which we’re taking advantage of, such as better lead corrosion protection,” which helped make the longer drain intervals possible.
Torkelson explained that Valvoline “had to balance the capability to perform in a higher-temperature engine like a natural gas engine while having the capability to function in a lower temperature engine as a diesel engine – although as diesel engines have evolved, they’re getting hotter and hotter.”
However, he said, diesel engine oils also need properties such as high levels of dispersants, which keep the soot produced by diesel combustion suspended in the oil. “Even today’s ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel doesn’t burn as cleanly as natural gas does, so you need different characteristics to handle those byproducts.”
And on the gasoline side there’s a need to balance the detergents in the oil to keep corrosion at bay.
The new Gen2 product is so good, Valvoline has discontinued its Premium Blue 8600 diesel product and converting customers to the Gen2 product, even if they’re not running a mixed fleet, according to Eric Bevevino, Valvoline director of heavy-duty national accounts.
“Some people will say, ‘This is a natural gas oil and I’m a diesel engine fleet,’ but this is a combined oil and it can get you more for your diesel fleet," he said.
Valvoline’s Premium Blue product is not the only oil that meets the Cummins CES 20092 natural gas engine spec, but many of those are not approved for use in both natural gas and diesel engines. According to Valvoline, there are fewer than half a dozen oils that are approved for both the Cummins diesel engine spec 20086 and the CES 20092 natural gas spec. “Our Gen2 is like a premium product that performs better than even that small subset in both types of engines,” said a Cummins spokesperson in a follow-up email.
In the Shop
One of the challenges of having a mixed fleet is finding an engine oil that works in different types of engines. Few fleet managers want to deal with the costs and headaches of maintaining oil inventory for multiple oil types. By using one oil for diesel, natural gas, and gasoline engines, fleet managers could see reduced costs due to product consolidation, increased working capital, and reduced risk of using the wrong oil in an engine, according to the company.
On top of that, Valvoline’s goal was to extend drain intervals so customers can perform fewer oil changes over the life of the equipment, resulting in cost savings for oil and technician labor and keeping trucks on the road producing revenue.
Cummins’ partnership with Valvoline “is pretty singly focused on delivering value to our customers, and one of the main ways we do that is aligning maintenance logistics and improving [total cost of ownership],” explained Cummins' Denton. “The Gen2 oil probably more than anything else in the past really is a solution to both those.”
“We can go 50% longer in the 9-liter natural gas engine than other [CES] 20092 product on the market, said Valvoline's Torkelson.
When asked about possible extended drain intervals for the 12-liter natural gas engine, Torkelson said, “we are in conversation with Cummins right now in terms of looking at the 12-liter. There are some hurdles in terms of other maintenance requirements that engine needs,” he said, such as spark plug changes, that still require the truck being brought in for maintenance at sooner intervals than the oil change might require.
“If we can demonstrate that we can extend the life of the spark plugs, we could potentially look at longer drain intervals on the oil," he explained. "We have demonstrated in field testing that we can get further than 40,000 miles; we’re running out to 65,000 miles with the 12L natural gas – it’s just that coordination with other maintenance intervals.”
It’s possible that fleets wishing to extend intervals for the 12L natural gas engine may be able to work directly with Cummins engineers to set up and monitor a program that would involve used-oil analysis.
Valvoline and Heavy Duty
Despite its longstanding relationship with Cummins, Valvoline is not as well known in the heavy-duty market as it is in the automotive market, where it not only sells oil but also provides quick oil change and other maintenance services.
“The thing many folks don't realize about Valvoline is the focus on vehicle maintenance as a company but also as heavy-duty maintenance fluid company,” said Bevevino. “Valvoline is well known for instant oil changes and racing, and the HD business has been one of the best-kept secrets at Valvoline for years.”
While most competitors outsource their engine and field testing work, Valvoline said, it maintains its own engine lab to study every element of the vehicle drivetrain. Insights on hardware design are captured by proprietary mathematical descriptions of lubricant behavior and powertrain components such as camshaft-roller contact, bearing surfaces and differential gearing.
Working with Cummins, Bevevino said, “we took the feedback from our customers who are mixed fleets, and new customers like municipalities and urban transit, and the R&D team came up with this next generation product – which is the only one of its kind, with extended drain diesel and natural gas intervals and it meets the modern specifications for gasoline.”
Valvoline Premium Blue One Solution Gen2 is currently available and can be purchased by contacting the Valvoline sales team or ordered through local distributors.