by George E. Totten, Ph.D

This is a timeline of the history of Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants and key moments in the history of the petroleum (and related) industries. For an abridged, designed version from the June 2004 issue of ASTM Standardization News magazine, click here.

To 1899 1900-1919 1920-1939
1940-1959 1960-1979 1980-2004
1920 Committee N is renamed D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants; its scope is broadened to be consistent with its new title.

1921 ASTM D 86, Method for Distillation of Petroleum Products at Atmospheric Pressure, is approved. This will become one of the most-used ASTM standards and will become a joint ASTM/Institute of Petroleum standard in 1964. D 86 will be one of the three building blocks of petroleum standardization with the publication of ASTM D 445, Method for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent and Opaque Liquids (the Calculation of Dynamic Viscosity) (see 1937), and D 1655, Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuels (see 1959).

1921 ASTM D 89, Copper Corrosion by Petroleum Products, is published. In 1922, it will be reissued as tentative standard D 130, Copper Corrosion by Petroleum Products, and will become a full consensus standard in 1930. D 130 will undergo a major revision in 1949, and will be retitled Method for Detection of Copper Corrosion from Petroleum Products by the Copper Strip Tarnish Test in 1956.

1921 ASTM D 90, Sulfur in Petroleum Products by the Lamp-Gravimetric Method, is issued and will be active as a tentative standard until 1955. It will become a test method in 1970 as D 1266, Method for Sulfur in Petroleum Products (Lamp Method).

1922 ASTM D 128, Methods for Analysis of Lubricating Grease, is approved and published. This test method outlines methods of chemical analysis of lubricating greases, including those based on synthetic lubricating fluids and non-soap thickeners.

1922 Thomas Midgley pioneers the use of tetraethyl lead as an antiknock additive in gasoline.

1922 Committee D02 is now composed of 19 subcommittees dealing with products and properties for fuels and lubricating oils.

1923 Committee D02 membership has grown from 10 members in 1905 to 80 members. These men are creating the foundational standard guidelines that will guide D02 for the next 80-plus years.

1923 For the first time in U.S. history, ethyl gasoline is marketed (in Dayton, Ohio).

1923 As technical director at Daimler in Stuttgart, Germany, Ferdinand Porsche develops the legendary supercharged Mercedes Benz SS and SSK sports cars, among others.

1924 ASTM D 187, Method for Burning Quality of Kerosine, is issued and will become a full standard in 1927. This standard covers kerosine used for illuminating purposes (kerosine or “coal oil” lamps as they were initially called). D 187 will be followed in 1925 by ASTM D 219, Method for Burning Quality of Long-Time Burning Oil for Railway Use, a tentative standard that will become a full standard in 1927, covering railway semaphore signal lamps. In 1978, a kerosine specification (D 3699, Specification for Kerosine) will be issued.

1925 The Chrysler Corporation is organized.

1925 ASTM D 217, Methods for Cone Penetration of Lubricating Grease, is issued. This test method covers tests for performing full scale, prolonged worked, and block penetrations on lubricating grease. ASTM D 1403, Methods for Cone Penetration of Lubricating Grease Using One-Quarter and One-Half Scale Cone Equipment, will be added in 1956 to allow for penetration measurements on smaller grease samples.

1927 Charles Lindberg makes the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic.

1928 The first edition of Special Technical Publication STP 7, Significance of Tests for Petroleum Products, is issued, which is now known as Manual 1. 2003 will see the publication of the 7th edition.

1930 ASTM D 323, Method for Vapor Pressure of Petroleum Products (Reid Method), is published. Until now, a test method developed by the Interstate Commerce Commission and prescribed by the Bureau of Explosives in 1912 has been used.

1930 Committee D02 forms Technical Division A, now Subcommittee A on Gasoline, with three subgroups: Subgroup 1 on Gum, Subgroup 2 on Corrosion and Subgroup 3 on Vapor Lock. The division is tasked to develop a gasoline specification.

1930 As the market grows, petroleum distribution continues to be an important issue in order to serve the world market. The advent of new technologies, such as Jersey Standard’s process for boosting fuel octane through the use of additives and blending technology (e.g., “Blue Sonoco”), also facilitates both market growth and improved performance.

1933 The National Exchange Group is formed within Committee D02. The primary missions of the NEG are the measurement of engine test standards’ precision, evaluation of factors affecting ratings, and assisting participating laboratories in maintaining interlaboratory testing reproducibility. By 2004, the NEG will operate an X-check program whereby laboratories periodically test gasolines comparatively for octane number and diesel fuels for cetane number.

1933 ASTM D 357, Method of Test for Knock Characteristics of Motor Fuels, is issued. The phrase “by the Motor Method” will be added to the title in 1947 when D 908, Method of Test for Knock Characteristics of Motor Fuels by the Research Method, is issued, to differentiate the two standards. D 357 will be withdrawn in 1969 and replaced by D 2700, Test Method for Motor Octane Number of Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel.

1933 Toyota Industries Corporation establishes an automobile department, which will separate from the parent company in 1937 to become Toyota Motor Corporation.

1934 Section V on Specifications is created in Technical Division A on Gasoline.

1934 ASTM D 381, Method for Gum Content of Gasoline, is published. The increased ownership of automobiles leads to increased demand for gasoline, which in turn leads to the development of improved cracking operations. This leads to more olefins in fuel, hence a greater tendency to form gums and sediment, thus requiring gum test methods and specification requirements.

1934 The first of four fuel standards issued by Subcommittee E on Burner, Diesel, Non-Aviation Gas Turbine, and Marine Fuels — D 396, Specification for Burner Fuels — is issued, covering fuels for fuel-oil burning equipment such as home heating oils. Next will be ASTM D 975, Specification for Diesel Fuel Oils, which will cover diesel fuels starting with its publication in 1948. Prior to this, there has been no widely used specification for diesel engine fuel. The third, ASTM D 2880, Specification for Gas Turbine Fuel Oils, covering non-aviation gas turbine fuels, will be issued in 1970. Lastly, ASTM D 2069, Specification for Marine Fuels, will be issued in 1991.

1935 The first successful passenger airliner, the DC-3, makes its maiden flight.

1935 The first KdF Wagens (to be renamed Volkswagen in 1945) are produced.

1937 ASTM D 445, Method for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent and Opaque Liquids (the Calculation of Dynamic Viscosity), is the second of three building blocks of petroleum standardization along with ASTM D 86 (see 1921) and ASTM D 1655 (see 1959). The enormous list of products covered by ASTM D 445 includes jet fuels, aircraft turbine lubricants, marine and domestic fuel oils, diesel fuels, industrial fluid lubricants, automotive and heavy-duty engine oils, heat transfer fluids, hydraulic oils and many more. ASTM D 445 will also become ISO Standard 3104.

1937 Competition among automobile manufacturers leads to engines with higher and higher compression ratios, requiring higher-octane gasolines. This leads to process development in the industry, e.g., cracking, reforming, isomerization, etc. In D02, this leads to changes in the gasoline specification and the first appearance of ASTM D 439, Specification for Gasoline, showing three types of gasoline based on volatility and further breakdown according to antiknock characteristics. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission will later require the posting of the Antiknock Index in 1979. ASTM D 439 will be discontinued in 1991 and replaced with D 4814, Specification for Automotive Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel.


To 1899 1900-1919 1920-1939
1940-1959 1960-1979 1980-2004

For author and acknowledgements information, click here.
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