Status: Need is Closed

Maintaining Optimal TBN in Marine Lubricating Oils

Request Number

Point of Contact
Need was closed on
Aug 7, 2018

We are seeking novel approaches to maintain an optimal Total Base Number in marine lubricating oils.  The ideal solution would include best practices for formulating high TBN lubricating oils and restoring TBN, as needed, without reducing the other functional properties of the lubricating oil.


The companies comprising the Swedish-based Stena Sphere represent one of the largest private shipping groups in the world. We are seeking solutions that can be applied to cargo and passenger ships that travel in all of the world’s oceans.


Currently, marine lubricating oils are formulated with TBN levels corresponding to the sulfur in the fuel oil used.  However, our ships run on a wide range of fuel types (with sulfur concentrations up to 3.5%) and under a wide range of engine operating conditions.


Typically, half of the lubricating oil is replaced with fresh oil when the TBN falls below some critical level to avoid corrosion by the acidic combustion by-products associated with high sulfur fuels.  Replacing and disposing of this used oil is costly, and so we are seeking novel methods to restore the TBN continuously until some other life-limiting factor triggers the need for changing the lubricating oil.  In order to completely eliminate the need for replacing lubrication oil for depleted alkalinity, the proposed solution should maintain a Total Base Number of greater than 20 (mg KOH/g) at all times.


Key success Criteria
  1. Technical Viability-- Solutions proposed must be based on sound scientific principles and have laboratory or pilot scale data that demonstrate efficacy.
  2. Scale up Potential—Solutions proposed must have a clear pathway to be application on commercial ships within 1-2 years. Solutions already practiced in marine markets have higher value. The ideal partner would have expertise in lubrication oil formulation chemistry and physical properties for a range of engine and fuel types. 
  3. Costs—Solutions would need to provide reasonable return on investment, consistent with the anticipated annual savings of 40,000 Euros per vessel.  
  4. Ownership—Solutions covered by patents have higher value. At a minimum, proposed solutions must not be prohibited by other patents in the field. 


Possible Approaches

Stena is interested in more cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions to maximize lubrication oil service life while maintaining excellent lubrication and corrosion protection to engine components.


In contrast with existing solutions, the ideal solution should not require the replacement of a significant portion of the used oil, but would rather restore TBN via a concentrated additive, without significantly impacting the lubrication oil’s viscosity or other critical properties.  We would also be interested in evaluating non-traditional lubrication oil additives, such as Magnesium or Salicylate based chemistries.


Approaches not of Interest

Approaches that require off-loading, processing, and re-loading of used lubricating oil.


Due Date
Jul 31, 2018
Items to be submitted

We are looking for concise, non-confidential proposals. The proposal should describe the technical approach and should ideally include information on the technological readiness of the proposal, any proof of concept data, reference to any peer reviewed publications, and potential route to commercialization.

Client Point of Contact

Super User
Alan Gordon
Gallery Moderator(s)
Oliver Worsfold
Request Number
Preferred Collaboration Types