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
Print Version
1940 Standard Oil Co. (Indiana) develops catalytic reforming to produce higher octane gasoline and create toluene for TNT. Higher octane gasoline is used in American and British fighter planes.

1940 The minimum motor octane numbers in ASTM D 439 (see 1937) are raised: premium, 77; regular, 70; and less-than-regular, 50.

1940 ASTM D 566, Method for Dropping Point of Lubricating Grease, is published. It is the basic test method for determining the temperature at which the thickener in grease melts. This method, along with D 217, Method for Cone Penetration of Lubricating Grease, and D 128, Methods for Analysis of Grease, forms the core of tests performed routinely on greases by all producers and users around the world.

1941 ASTM D 613, Method for Ignition Quality of Diesel Fuels by the Cetane Method, is issued to provide a better measure of fuel ignition properties. Subsequently, methods will be developed for estimating cetane numbers using a calculated “cetane index” when engine test data are not available, including: D 976, Methods for Calculated Cetane Index of Distillate Fuels (1966), and D 4737, Method for Calculated Cetane Index by Four Variable Equation (1987).

1942 Twenty-four-inch [610 mm] and 20-inch [508 mm] diameter pipelines, respectively known as the “Big Inch” and the “Little Big Inch,” are built to transfer petroleum crude oil from the oil fields of east Texas and refined petroleum products from the Gulf Coast to refining and distribution areas near New York, N.Y., and Philadelphia, Pa. The lines are a major part of the U.S. war effort and represent a significant achievement in pipeline technology in terms of sheer size and scope.

1942 First publication of the acid and base number method for petroleum products, ASTM D 664, Test Method for Acid Number of Petroleum Products by Potentiometric Titration, which provides information on the quality or oxidative state of the oil.

1946 ASTM D02 Subcommittee J on Aviation Fuels is formed to develop an aviation gasoline specification. This results in the issuance of ASTM D 910, Specification for Aviation Gasolines, which specifies five grades of aviation gasoline differing in lead content, color and octane numbers.

1947 “The Research Method,” D 908, Method of Test for Knock Characteristics of Motor Fuels by the Research Method (see 1933), is issued. It will be replaced in 1968 by D 2699, Test Method for Research Octane Number of Spark-Ignition Engine Fuel.

1947 Committee D02 Subcommittee 1 on Combustion Characteristics is formed, which merges all activities of the National Exchange Group (see 1933) and the relevant ASTM standards development activities.

1947 The International Organization for Standardization and its Technical Committee (ISO/TC) 28 on petroleum products and lubricants are organized. Many ASTM D02 test methods will be used as the basis for test methods developed by ISO/TC 28.

1947 The first off-shore oil well is drilled.

1947 The sound barrier is broken by Charles Yeager.

1948 Gum content in ASTM D 439 (see 1937) is reduced to a maximum of 5 mg/100 mL. An appendix is added regarding the significance of ASTM specifications for motor gasoline.

1948 D02 forms two research divisions, one on combustion characteristics and another on corrosion tests. The following year, eight additional research divisions will be added, the forefathers to the current D02 numbered subcommittees on properties.

1948 Committee D02’s Special Subcommittee on Coordination of Test Methods is formed.

1949 Committee D02’s Special Committee on Extreme Pressure Properties Measurement is formed.

1950 Subcommittee D02.10 on Properties of Petroleum Wax is listed in the ASTM directory for the first time as a joint committee with TAPPI.

1951 D02’s Coordinating Division on Research in Significance of Tests is formed.

1951 ASTM D 1160, Standard Test Method for Distillation of Petroleum Products at Reduced Pressure, is issued.

1952 Minimum octane numbers are changed in ASTM D 439 (see 1937): premium, 85; regular, 78; and less-than-regular, no limit. The octane number test changes from MON (motor octane number) to RON (research octane number).

1952 The first plenary meeting of ISO/TC 28 on petroleum products and lubricants is held.

1954 ASTM D 1322 is issued as the Smoke Point of Jet Fuels. It will undergo several title changes and, in 1997, D 1322 will become a joint standard with the Institute of Petroleum’s IP 57/95, Smoke Point.

1958 More than a million passengers fly over the Atlantic Ocean, surpassing the total of Atlantic steamship passengers for the first time.

1958 The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is established.

1958 The first sequence tests for engine oils are published as ASTM Special Technical Publication STP 315, Multi-Cylinder Test Sequences for Evaluating Automotive Engine Oils. STP 509, Single-Cylinder Engine Tests for Evaluating the Performance of Crankcase Lubricants will be published in 1972.

1959 First International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee (ISO/TC) 28 recommendation (standard) is published (ISO/R91-1959 Petroleum measurement tables); this eventually will become ISO 91-1. R91 is based, in part, on IP 200/ASTM D1250, Guide for Petroleum Measurement Tables.

1959 The third building block of petroleum standardization, ASTM D 1655, Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuels, is issued (see 1921 and 1937). This will be the exclusive specification for aviation turbine fuel in the United States (about 35 to 40 percent of the world’s aviation fuel), used with other international standards for the “Joint Checklist,” which is used for guidance (except in Russia), representing 75 to 90 percent of the world’s jet fuel.


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

For author and acknowledgements information, click here.
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