Type of Oil Used in Electric Motors


Electric motors convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, and are incorporated in different commercial and household applications. These motors require specially developed lubricating materials called motor oils for their continuous and cohesive performance. There are different categories of motor oils, which find their respective distinction mainly on the basis of different chemical compositions and sources of origin. In other words, all categories of motor oil perform similar functions of lubricating the electric motor components, but their categorization is made on the basis of their compositional properties, which define their level of efficiency within an electric motor.

Conventional Oils

  • Conventional motor oil is obtained as crude oil, or unrefined petroleum, from the ground, and is further processed through different chemical additives in the refinery. This type of oil is viscous and has a pungent odor, and is specifically used in commercial and industrial electric motors. Conventional motor oil is not refined on the molecular levels, which means it always contains organic and inorganic impurities, and, for this reason, is not employed in sensitive or low-power electrical motors.

Synthetic Oils

  • Synthetic motor oil also originates from crude petroleum and is refined, or processed, through extensive chemical procedures. However, this type of oil is constituted by uniform organic molecules and contains a minimum level of impurities. For this reason, synthetic motor oil has minimal odor and can be used in both high- and low-power electric motors. This is in contrast with conventional motor oils, which is constituted by variable molecular sizes and large amount of organic impurities. Some common applications of synthetic motor oils include automobile electric motors, jet engine motors, household water pumps and motorcycle engines.

Semi-synthetic Oils

  • Semi-synthetic motor oils are composed by chemical mixing of synthetic and different crude oils in appropriate ratios. This type of oil is less costly than fully synthetic motor oil, and can be used as a cheap replacement in both low- and high-power electric motor applications. Semi-synthetic oil is also known as synthetic blend, and is usually composed within ratios of 30 to 40 percent synthetic and 60 to 70 percent crude organic oils. This proportion indicates the performance level of semi-synthetic motor oils, which increases with increasing ratio of fully synthetic oil within.

Bio-base Oils

  • Bio-base oils have long been used as lubricants and heat-absorbing viscous materials. This type of oil includes all biologically existing organic liquids, which have been used as fuels as well as lubricants in different household tasks. However, this type of oil is not used in industry for lubricating electric motors, and is specifically employed in the form of grease or wax in small household electric motor applications like fans, hand blowers and miscellaneous power tools.

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