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Why do lubricant designers include additives?

Oils play a vital role in keeping machine parts working effectively. From stationary plant equipment used by rural enterprises to engines running in cars and commercial vehicles, these lubricants ensure all components can move easily by reducing the friction that causes them to grind against one another. Creating smooth operations, lubricants ensure that no harm is caused to parts that can result in them needing to be replaced before their time.

Internal combustion, among other machine processes undertaken by equipment, can inflict not only physical pressure, but stress from intense temperatures, like high heats. Fortunately, oils also act as a coolant, reducing the temperature of parts and protecting them. Lubricants also safeguard machinery by sealing it against corrosives such as rust, dirt and debris. Oils can efficiently collect any unwanted matter as they flow through a machine’s inner workings, before filtering it away from working components, ensuring they don’t become clogged and stop working effectively.

Some people wonder why, if base oils are able to perform these multiple tasks so well, do research teams at lubricant manufacturers like Shell and Morris Lubricants need to include additives in their products? Read on for all you need to know about why leading oil engineers are enhancing the oils, fluids and greases they produce to serve equipment owners around the world.

Built-for-purpose lubrication

Although the base oils that form the foundation for most kinds of lubricant are naturally capable of performing these duties, in many cases, mechanical equipment, the environment it operates in and the work it does will demand extreme performance levels that base oils can’t meet without assistance. To ensure oils are up to the task and deliver, expert engineers at oil manufacturers will infuse them with cleverly formulated packages containing special additives.

Key reasons for additive inclusion

As mentioned, additives selected may be naturally sourced, picked for their innate properties, or they may be cleverly constructed in labs from chemical formulations to provide attributes with advanced specifications. There are three main reasons why additives may be used in a product.

If the base oil has qualities that negatively impact its performance, an additive can suppress these properties. However, if the base oil offers beneficial attributes, these can be improved with hand-picked additives. Finally, additives also allow engineers to add entirely new properties that have never existed in the base oil used. The following are some examples:


To ensure only useful properties of oils are retained, additives such as pour-point depressants, as well as viscosity improvers, may be used, suppressing unwanted attributes.


Base oils can perform many important roles, as discussed, but additives can be added that improve and enhance their abilities. Antioxidants, anti-foaming agents and rust inhibitors can all be used to amp the inherent qualities of an oil, allowing it to exceed its natural capacity to operate.

All-new attributes

Last but not least, expert engineers are now developing lab-made additives that deliver unheard of attributes to cope with the latest equipment. Extreme pressure inclusions, detergents and deactivators are all ideal examples.

To conclude, the inclusion of additives in lubricants allows manufacturers to enhance their offerings, ensuring machinery works at optimum for as long as possible.

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