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
1960 ASTM D 1660, Method for Thermal Stability of Aviation Turbine Fuels, is published. It is one of the first tests to simulate performance rather than fuel chemistry to define a satisfactory fuel. ASTM D 1660 will be replaced in 1973 by ASTM D 3241, Test Method for Thermal Oxidation Stability of Aviation Turbine Fuels (JFTOT Procedure), which helps make ASTM D 1655, Specification for Aviation Turbine Fuels, a performance specification and not simply a specification for composition.

1960 The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is formed by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.

1963 Honda sells its first cars.

1964 Since the 1950s, the four-ball test machine has been used. The first ASTM four-ball wear test, D 2266, Method for Wear Preventive Characteristics of Lubricating Grease (Four-Ball Method), is issued this year. A fluid lubricant version, D 4172, Method for Wear Preventive Characteristics of Lubricating Fluid (Four-Ball Method), will appear in 1982. D 5183, Method for Determination of the Coefficient of Friction of Lubricants Using the Four-Ball Wear Test Machine, will later be developed for determining coefficients of friction to assess performance differences due to friction modifiers used in energy conserving motor oils and fluid lubricants.

1965 Hearings on leaded gasoline begin in the U.S. Senate.

1966 ASTM D 2533, Test Method for Vapor-Liquid Ratio of Spark-Ignition Engine Fuels, is published.

1966 The Timken extreme pressure test machine, developed in the 1930s for evaluating the load carrying properties of greases, is used in the new ASTM D 2509, Method for Measurement of Load-Carrying Capacity of Lubricating Grease (Timken Method). The method for fluids, D 2782, Method for Measurement of Extreme-Pressure Properties of Lubricating Fluids (Timken Method), will issue in 1969. These methods will be used in almost every industrial application where extreme pressure is required.

1967 ASTM D 2602, Test Method for Apparent Viscosity of Engine Oils at Low Temperature Using the Cold-Cranking Simulator, is issued. Earlier in this decade, a cold cranking simulator laboratory test was developed. An ASTM round robin study shows that an excellent correlation is obtained between actual engine cranking data and laboratory test data obtained with 18 reference oils.

1967 The first standard four-ball extreme pressure method, ASTM D 2596, Method for Measurement of Extreme-Pressure Properties of Lubricating Grease, is published to evaluate the extreme pressure properties of greases required for heavy duty applications. A similar method for fluid lubricants, D 2783, Method for Measurement of Extreme-Pressure Properties of Lubricating Fluids (Four-Ball Method), will be published in 1969.

1967 ASTM D 2625, Method for Endurance (Wear) Life and Load Carrying Capacity of Solid Film Lubricants (Falex Pin and Vee Method), is issued and is the first standardized ASTM test using the pin and vee block for the measurement of anti-wear and endurance (life) of bonded solid film lubricants. The pin and vee block test machine, more commonly known as the Falex tester or Faville tester, named after its inventor, was developed in 1927 as a salesman’s demonstration tool for fluid lubricants containing anti-wear and extreme pressure additives.

1967 The U.S. Congress passes the Clean Air Act, which authorizes planning grants to state air pollution control agencies.

1967 The ASTM X-ray fluorescence instrumental method, D 2622, Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum Products by Wavelength Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry, for the determination of sulfur in fuels, becomes widely popular, replacing earlier old-fashioned, time-consuming, and labor-intensive wet chemistry methods. D 2622 can detect parts per million quantities of sulfur as opposed to only higher levels of sulfur. This standard will become a mandatory U.S. Environmental Protection Agency method for sulfur regulations for both gasoline and diesel.

1969 The U. S. Interior Department nets $900,220,590 in bids for Alaskan oil leases. The sale of oil on 179 tracts of the North Slope totaling 450,858 acres opens the arctic for oil exploration.

1970 The president of General Motors urges the elimination of lead additives from gasoline in order to allow the use of catalytic converters.

1970 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is formed.

1970 ASTM D 2892, Test Method for Distillation of Crude Petroleum (15-Theoretical Plate Column), is issued.

1970 The Society of Automotive Engineers requests Subcommittee D02.07 on Flow Properties to develop a test method to determine the ability of an oil to flow to the engine oil pump and to critical engine parts under actual engine-use conditions. The result of this work will be the issuance of ASTM D 3829, Test Method for Predicting the Borderline Pumping Temperature of Engine Oil, in 1979, which will later be modified to incorporate a proper cooling cycle, and ASTM D 4684, Method for Determination of Yield Stress and Apparent Viscosity of Engine Oils at Low Temperature.

1970 The volatility class designations are changed to A through E in ASTM D 439 (see 1937) and the 50 percent and 90 percent evaporation point limits now vary with volatility class. The appearance or workmanship limit of clear and bright is added.

1970 ASTM D 2882, Method for Indicating the Wear Characteristics of Petroleum and Non-Petroleum Hydraulic Fluids in a Constant Volume Vane Pump, is issued and will become the standard for wear testing both in North America and Europe (see 2003).

1972 By this year, none of the separate D02 divisions exist. All activities are now listed under: Technical Divisions (lettered, product subcommittees), Research and Development (numbered, property subcommittees), and Coordinating Subcommittees.

1972 New test methods using instrumental approach are now in wide use for the determination of heteroatoms (e.g., carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur and chlorine) in petroleum products and lubricants — which used to be done by wet chemistry methods. These included gravimetric or titrimetric finishes, for example:
• D 129, Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum Products (General Bomb Method);
• D 808, Test Method for Chlorine in New and Used Petroleum Products (Bomb Method);
• D 1266 (see 1921);
• D 1552, Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum Products (High-Temperature Method); and
• D 3228, Test Method for Total Nitrogen in Lubricating Oils and Fuel Oils by Modified Kjeldahl Method).
The older methods required larger sample amounts, manual labor and had poor detection limits. The newer methods use milligram amounts of sample, complete the analysis in a few minutes, and are applicable to trace amounts of these elements. Examples of such instrumental heteroatoms determination include:
• D 3120, Test Method for Trace Quantities of Sulfur in Light Liquid Petroleum Hydrocarbons by Oxidative Microcoulometry;
• D 3246, Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum Gas by Oxidative Microcoulometry;
• D 4045, Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum Products by Hydrogenolysis and Rateometric Colorimetry;
• D 4629, Test Method for Trace Nitrogen in Liquid Petroleum Hydrocarbons by Syringe/Inlet Oxidative Combustion and Chemiluminescence Detection;
• D 5291, Test Methods for Instrumental Determination of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Nitrogen in Petroleum Products and Lubricants;
• D 5453, Test Method for Determination of Total Sulfur in Light Hydrocarbons, Motor Fuels and Oils by Ultraviolet Fluorescence;
• D 5762, Test Method for Nitrogen in Petroleum and Petroleum Products by Boat-Inlet Chemiluminescence;
• D 6667, Test Method for Determination of Total Volatile Sulfur in Gaseous Hydrocarbons and Liquefied Petroleum Gases by Ultraviolet Fluorescence; and
• D 6920, Test Method for Total Sulfur in Naphthas, Distillates, Reformulated Gasolines, Diesels, Biodiesels, and Motor Fuels by Oxidative Combustion and Electrochemical Detection.
Most of these newer methods are widely used in industry labs worldwide.

1972 The U.S. Congress passes the Clean Water Act.

1972 Landmark publication of Research Report (RR) D2:1004, a standardized statistical protocol for estimating repeatability and reproducibility for petroleum test methods.

1972 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces all gasoline stations must carry “nonleaded” gasoline, but will delay setting standards until 1973.

1973 A worldwide energy crisis created by the Arab Oil Embargo begins on Oct. 17 and will continue until March 1974. The crisis leads to greater interest in renewable energy and greater pressure to discover and develop new North American oil resources. It will also result in a revolution in automobile manufacture by replacing the large energy-consuming vehicles of the 1950s and ‘60s with more compact and energy-efficient cars. The embargo will also lead to the creation of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. By the early ‘80s, oil will be in surplus and prices will fall.

1973 The U. S. Congress approves the Alaska oil pipeline.

1974 ASTM D 3244, Practice for Utilization of Test Data to Determine Conformance with Specifications, is issued. This standard will become indispensable when applying precision data to test methods.

1975 “Mobil 1” is introduced as the first fully synthetic motor oil nationally marketed in the United States.

1975 Catalytic converters are introduced in many automobiles to meet emissions standards established by the U.S. government.

1976 The ASTM Test Monitoring Center is established at Carnegie Mellon University to monitor the test methods of Subcommittee B on Automotive Lubricants.

1976 ASTM D 3520, Method for Quenching Time of Heat-Treating Fluids (Magnetic Quenchometer Method), is issued. This method will go on to be one of the most important methods in the heat-treating industry for classifying cooling characteristics of quench oils.

1977 The U. S. Department of Energy is created.

1978 The U.S. government begins limiting the amount of lead permitted in gasoline. The purpose of this regulation is to prevent deterioration of the platinum catalysts in catalytic converters. By June 1979 nearly half of all U.S. gasoline will be unleaded.

1978 The U.S. Energy Tax Act creates a federal ethanol tax incentive of 5 cents per gallon, expanding the use of ethanol in the United States.

1978 Chlorofluorocarbons, or freons, are banned as spray propellants in the United States because of fears about holes in the ozone layer.

1979 The classic flash-point methods, ASTM D 56 (see 1918), D 92, Test Method for Flash and Fire Points by Cleveland Open Cup Tester, and D 93, Test Methods for Flash-Point by Pensky-Martens Closed Cup Tester, were dynamic methods performed by heating samples and checking vapors with an ignition source at specified temperature intervals until a flash was noted. This year, the equilibrium method, D 3828, Standard Test Methods for Flash Point by Small Scale Closed Tester, utilizes a fresh sample for every temperature tested.


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

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