Early Synthetic Lubrication History
Experimentation with synthetic lubrication dates back as far as 1877, when the prominent chemist team of Charles Friedel and James Mason Crafts successfully used aluminum trichloride as a catalyst, creating the first known synthesized hydrocarbons. It wasn’t until 1929 that Standard Oil Company of Indiana commercialized the process, but the endeavor was unsuccessful due to lack of demand.
The Zurich Aviation Congress became interested in the development of ester-based lubricants in 1937. The Germans, frustrated by the failure of petroleum lubricants during the cold weather of the Battle of Stalingrad, prepared and evaluated more than 3,500 esters between 1938 and 1944. Meanwhile, in the United States, the first diester base stocks (a compound using two ester groupings) were in development at the Naval Research Laboratory.
In 1947, Great Britain had discovered the benefits of using diesters as lubricants in turboprop aircraft. Later, with the advent of highly sophisticated jet engines, research and development in the area of synthetic lubricants really took off, and various synthetic formulations were developed to meet the demands of the new engines.
Synthetic Oil for Internal Combustion Engines
The clear benefits of synthetic-based lubricants in jet engines impressed lieutenant colonel and jet fihter squadron commander Al Amatuzio, and in the early 1960s, he became interested in developing a synthetic motor oil for use in internal combustion engines. Given the significant differences between a jet engine and an internal combustion engine, it was a massive task, but Amatuzio was up to the challenge. By 1972, after several years of intense research and development, AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil was born, and it became the first 100 percent synthetic-based motor oil to pass American Petroleum Institute (API) service requirements.
When it first hit the market, AMSOIL was far ahead of its time, and Amatuzio found it difficult to market such a revolutionary product. But with the complexity of engines increasing, forcing smaller engine designs and ever-increasing engine operating temperatures, engines demanded a superior lubricant. With the aid of the AMSOIL Dealer network, people began to discover it in AMSOIL. Competitors were forced to take notice, and soon industry giants Mobil, Quaker State, Castrol, Valvoline and Pennzoil were marketing their own synthetic variations.