aside from a marketing term, what are time-release molecules?

I see Penzoil claims to have “time-release” molecules. I presume that with the truth in advertising rules and regs, this has to have some basis in fact. What would that be?

Time-release entered the vocabulary when pharmaceutical companies figured out how to encapsulate drugs in various amounts of slow dissolving substances. The drug would not be released until the coating was completely removed, so a constant dosage could enter the system over a long period of time.

There are all sorts of methods to achieve this nowadays and I have no idea how Penzzoil chemically manages this. I see by searching that it is the additives they put it that are released over time. I don’t see any reason why the claim shouldn’t be true.

I am saying that I believe that there must be a certain amount of truth in that language, but what is it? Clearly, the oil doesn’t contain little capsules of time release grains like Contac did. What mechanism is involved that causes certain molecules to become available after a while? And available for what? From where? In the absence of some chemical catalyst, how would the lubricant change after a while? (Unless heat is the catalyst). Is Penzoil not just motor oil? Etc. That’s what I’m curious about. Seems like the Master wouldn’t just answer a question by saying, “Well, it’s like other things.” He’d explain. That’s why I posted. xo, C.

Which part of “it is the additives they put in that are released over time” that you don’t understand? Why are you talking gibberish about “the lubricant changing”? The lubricant itself isn’t changing; the additives are being released for continual action. Pennzoil is not pure oil - it is oil plus additives. In time release form.

In other words, the oil most certainly and exactly “contain[s] little capsules of time release grains like Contac did.”


I clarified my question above. I’ll wait until someone who knows weighs in with an answer.

The “time-release” molecules are advertising copy BS.
Molecules are molecules, the LCD of a compound or oil additive.
The molecules of a compound may be what are released over time to maintain the desired level of additive concentration.

Likely not. They put all sorts of exotic stuff in motor oils these days. Pennzoil’s product description for their SUV/Truck/Minivan oil isn’t very enlightening

Nor is the pdf ‘technical data’ link at the bottom of the page:

Pennzoil-Quaker State does however have a pile of patents on Ethylene alpha-olefin polymers, process and uses

At a guess, they’ve synthesized an ethylene alpha-olefin polymer that cracks when heated in an engine, to release lubricating agents. That’s all I’ve got. The STRAIGHT DOPE on the subject is probably hidden away from prying eyes in some lubrication industry trade journal.

Yep. That’s what I am curious about.

(Nor is the pdf ‘technical data’ link at the bottom of the page:
PENNZOIL SUV, TRUCK, AND MINIVAN MOTOR OIL contains time-released additives that provide consistent protection over the life of the motor oil.)

I’m wondering what the mechanism is in the oil that somehow “releases” molecules after a certain amount of time, and what those molecules do. I believe that the time-release components of certain drugs are time-delayed by virtue of being produced with coatings that take a good bit of time to be digested. That doesn’t seem to be the likely mechanism in this case. After all, the oil is just being rapidly stirred at high temperatures. And it’s very smooth to begin with. I know that “time-release molecules” is a lot of advertising b.s., but I’m interested in the nugget of truth that must be embedded. So…?

That’s not “clearly” the case at all. It’s perfectly possible that the same principle is used (albeit with microscopically small grains) – I don’t know whether or not this is actually the case, but it’s not something that can just be dismissed out of hand.

The “time-release molecules” phrasing is a bit of marketing hype designed to make it sound more scientific – the actual molecules are whatever they are, or else they’d be something else. (Would “time-release molecules” be any relation to the “unstable molecules” used to make the Fantastic Four’s outfits:?)

We’re talking about the wonderful world of microencapsulation here. I have noidea of what they’re putting in the oil, or why it is so short-lived that it has to be released a little at a time so there’s always a fresh batch, but it’s certainly possible.

Don’t know the exact answer but here is some musing that may be useful:

  1. If there is microencapsulation going on, the end size of the capsules probably wants to be smaller than around 3 um, as this is the rule of thumb size above which suspended particles in oil contribute to friction. This rule of thumb comes from the world of industrial liquid filtration.

  2. There are what you might call time release mechanisms at work in some industrial chemicals. For example, there are paints and other products that go through a curing process when exposed to air. The curing works like two-part systems such as epoxy, but the paint comes premixed, with both parts already present. They don’t cure prematurely in the can because there is another ingredient added that blocks the curing reaction. I have heard this agent called a blocking agent (more on this term later). The blocking agent disappears when the product is exposed to air or to light, and the cure reaction proceeds. “Viton” rubber surface treatments work this way. Some may point out that “blocking” refers to the tendency of rolled sheet goods of polymers such as saran tend to stick together and form a solid block, and agents that prevent this are called blocking agents; I’ve heard the term used both ways.

  3. The polymer cracking discussion doesn’t seem to be a source of time released lubricants to provide a thick cushion, because for lubricants you want big molecules and cracking makes molecules smaller. But you could be releasing other kinds of protection, for example things to buffer the acids that form in old oil and attack metal. You’d want buffers to be liberated slowly so that they don’t try to work on atmospheric CO2 and other acidic things that aren’t really part of the oil yet.

hmmmmm. Verrrrry interesting. I appreciate your comments on size, because it would seem counterproductive to build in microcapsules that would interfere with lubrication. Whatever these materials are encapsulated in, I’m guessing that either the heat or other additives in the oil are the cause of the dissolution of the shell. Does that make sense?

>Whatever these materials are encapsulated in, I’m guessing that either the heat or other additives in the oil are the cause of the dissolution of the shell.

First, the ad copy sounds more consistent with some other mechanism of time release rather than encapsulation, IMHO. Bear in mind that I’m quibbling over the exact meaning of what might well just be BS.

That being said, if it were encapsulation, I’d guess what releases the contents might be heat, or might be something like acidity that builds up in the oil over time. It’d have to be something that wasn’t present in the oil from the start, such as the other additives, or else the release would be happening while the oil was in storage.

Another thought about encapsulation - suspended particles make liquids cloudy, unless they are very small (such as less than 10 or 20 nm or so) or unless the indices of refraction are matched between the liquid, the capsules, and the capsule contents. Unless the oil in question does look cloudy, that makes encapsulation seem even less plausible.

Righo-o. The particles would have to be small enough to stay suspended. In many cases, that leads to the mixture being a coloid which is almost always not clear. The encapsulation theory does not work as well for me as one in which chemical reactions occur as a result of the heat, resulting in different molecules. If that were to occur, then a copy writer could twist that into “time-release molecules.” I’m still wondering.