Skip to main content
Flow TestParticle Removal TestSAE Tests
SAE Tests 

Greater Performance Over Extended Life with Lower Costs

Verified by SAE Technical Papers: 881827, 881825, 95255

and Additional Scientific Studies

Lube oil contamination accounts for 70 to 80% of all failures and wear problems.  The wear process promoted by oil contamination leads to diminished fuel efficiency, shorter useful oil service life, increased engine down time, reduced component life, loss of engine performance and an overall increase in operating costs.

Contaminant particles responsible for this damage are in the size range of the dynamic lubricant films separating moving engine component surfaces; 10 microns and smaller.  Typically these particles pass through the oil filter and continue to build up in the oil system.  By making simultaneous contact with opposing surfaces these harmful particles focus the load onto a small area, degrading the surface and perpetuating a chain-reaction-of-wear.

There are three categories of oil contaminates active in the engine wear process:

  1. Solid particles, including wear debris and soot, which damage mechanical components and catalyze lubricant breakdown.
  2. Liquid contaminates, including fuel and water, which corrode metals and hinder the functioning of lubricants.
  3. Gaseous contaminants, including acidic combustion products, which corrode component surfaces and degrade the oil.

The predominant harmful impurities in engine oil are metallic particles and metal oxides.
Typically there are well over 10,000 contaminant particles per milliliter of lube oil.  Furthermore, approximately 90% of these particles are less than 10-microns in size.  It's important to note that these particles generate about 3.5-times more wear than particles greater than 10-microns in size.  This wear occurs because these particles are the size of or slightly larger than the dynamic oil films separating opposing surfaces.

Numerous studies have established a number of important points regarding the relationship between lube oil contamination and engine wear.  In the following SAE Paper 881827 substituting a standard 20-30 micron filter with a 10-micron filter resulted in:

  1. A reduced concentration of contaminant particles by a factor of 10-15 times
  2. A reduction in the four major wear metals monitored
  3. The filter was capable of operating more than twice the recommended service life
  4. Permitted the lube oil service life to be more than doubled without adverse engine wear or lubricant degradation.

In summary, controlling particle contamination in the 0-10-micron size range retards the chain-reaction-of-wear, resulting in significant reductions in component wear and lubricant breakdown.  The beneficial consequences include greater component life and reliability, increased oil change intervals, increased fuel efficiency and a reduction in overall maintenance costs.

Diesel Component Wear Test DDA 6V-53T Engine
Performed by AC Delco Division of General Motors (GM)

Five critical component areas tested:

1. Upper & Lower rod bearings.
2. Slipper bushings.
3. Compression & oil piston rings.
4. Piston rings.
5. The main bearings.

Conclusion: Control of particles in the 3-10 micron range had the greatest affect in reducing engine wear.

Diesel Engine Wear and Fuel Economy:

A study of twenty-two (22) 6-cylindar diesel engines performed by Fodor & Ling (affiliated with the Research Institute of Automotive Industry-Budapest and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

FINDINGS:  Reducing contamination from 0.016% by weight (standard oil filter) to 0.0025% with an extended filter, reduced engine wear by a factor of 14.  Most significantly, friction was reduced by 2.9% when operating with clean oil.  This fraction was equated to an increase in fuel economy of up to 5%.  As a comparison, this significantly exceeds the 0.6 - 0.9% fuel economy gained experienced when converting from SAE 40 to multi grade lube oil.

Survey of Diesel Engine Oil Contamination Levels

Samples of 138 engines operating with standard paper filter were compared to 117 engines operating with upgraded 10-micron filters.

Based on the relationship between dynamic oil film and size of wear generating particles, the most important particle size range is 0-10 microns.


  1. Diesel engine lube oil contamination causes wear of engine components.  Wear of these components leads to loss of performance, increased maintenance and overhaul cost, lower fuel efficiency, and shorter lube oil service life.
  2. There is a fundamental relationship between the size of contaminate particles and the thickness of the dynamic oil films developed between moving surfaces of active components.  Particles the size of, or larger than, the oil film thickness cause wear of components.  By making simultaneous contact with both surfaces, these particles focus the load onto a small region of the surface, resulting in surface pitting, plowing and cutting.
  3. The average oil film thickness associated with the majority of diesel engine components is in the 10-micron size domain.  This is the size range of the most damaging contaminant particles.  In addition, mechanical stress is accentuated during the high-load/thinner oil film phase of the engine cycle.  In order to minimize engine wear, emphasis must be placed on controlling particles in the 10-micron size domain.
  4. Oil contamination causes component wear in return generates more contamination.  This is the chain-reaction-of-wear.  If uncontrolled, this process results in an enormous number of oil suspended particles.  The consequences of uncontrolled chain-reaction-of-wear are:
    a) Higher friction, leading to high fuel consumption.
    b) Loss of material from sliding and rolling contacts, resulting in misalignment, vibration and component replacement.
    c) Opening of piston dynamic sealing surfaces, leading to loss of compression, further fuel consumption and contaminant ingestion from the environment.
    d) The accumulation of soot and combustion products in the lube oil and the formation of lubricant breakdown varnishes and sludge leading to reduced oil service life.
    5. The significance of proliferating particles in the 10-micron range domain is phenomenal.  Each grain of contaminant (wear debris, mineral grain, metallic oxide) produces a small but finite amount of friction, abrasive wear, and catalytic oil breakdown.  Because of the vast number of harmful particles, the total effect of this multitude is abbreviated oil life, substantially higher engine friction, and propagation of engine wear
    6. The benefits of controlling oil cleanliness levels in the order of 100-1000 particles /ml are:

a) An 8 to 14 times reduction in engine wear.
e) Up to 2 times increase in oil service life.
f) Up to 2 times increase in filter service life.
g) Up to 5% improvement in fuel economy.

The ultimate benefits are greater engine performance over an extended life with lower operating costs.

Take Action Today to Protect Your Vehicles & Our Environment
Kleen Lube
1200 Corporate Centre
Blue Springs, MO 64015
Phone: 816-686-5348