Base oils account for approximately 75%-90% of a finished lubricant’s volume and have a tremendous impact on the performance of the product. For the last 45 years, Shell has conducted research and development for its gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology. Throughout the development process, the technology has been optimized to create high-quality base oils for lubricants and other liquid products usually made from oil.
What is gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology?
GTL is the process of converting natural gas, the cleanest-burning hydrocarbon, into high-quality liquid products that would otherwise be made from crude oil. These products include transport fuels, motor oils, and ingredients for everyday items such as plastics and cosmetics. The result? An extremely pure base oil that is virtually free of contaminants.
How does it work?
In the first stage, natural gas is partially oxidized to create a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, also known as synthesis gas or syngas. Impurities are then removed from the syngas. Next, the syngas is converted into liquid hydrocarbons using a catalyst. In this stage, the liquid looks and feels like wax at room temperature. The final stage—cracking and isomerisation—‘cuts’ the molecule chains into shorter lengths, yielding high-quality liquids such as diesel, kerosene, and lubricant oil.
What are the benefits?
In base oils, GTL technology stands out above the rest. Conventional base oils are made from crude oil with impurities that cannot be completely removed and have an impact on the performance of the finished product. In contrast, GTL products have very low levels of contaminants such as sulphur, aromatics, and nitrogen. Because of this, they are less likely to degrade and will keep your equipment cleaner and running more efficiently. In addition, GTL oil can withstand very extreme temperatures, allowing your lubricants to endure more heat and perform better in extreme colds.
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