It’s going like clockwork
The 1950s saw a worldwide boom in the motorization of traffic. Increasingly powerful engines made new and greater demands on engine oils, which could only be met with oil additives. In 1954, Röhm & Haas GmbH launched a polyalkylmethacrylate oil additive under the name of VISCOPLEX® on the market. This made oils last longer and prevented changes to their viscosity under widely fluctuating temperatures, which damaged engines. Upon starting the engine, the oil remained thin enough to reach all areas rapidly, but was also viscous enough to keep the lubrication film intact, even if temperatures were consistently high. As these properties were not only important for motorized traffic, the experts also developed additives for hydraulic oil and other lubricants.
In 1962, the additive business was considerably expanded by dispersing agents, which regulated the viscosity of the oil more reliably at very low temperatures and which resisted mechanical wear in the engine. The customers buying oil additives from Röhm & Haas, the oil manufacturers, were then able to develop multipurpose oils which freed drivers from seasonal oil changes. The new products also had a positive effect on the lifespan of the engine. When low-cost olefin copolymerisates (OCP) were launched on the oil market around the mid 1970s, the experts at the company, which was now called Röhm GmbH, reacted by expanding the product range with so-called “mixed polymers,” which meant marked increases in VISCOPLEX® sales.
The researchers once again adopted a pioneering course when new lubricants based on sustainable raw materials, which were more ecologically compatible than mineral oils, came onto the market in the 1990s. They developed additives which, like the new plant-based oils, were biologically degradable.
As oil additives based on polymethacrylates had not only been developed by Röhm & Haas GmbH, but also by “Rohm and Haas” in Philadelphia, a subsidiary that had become independent from the parent company in Darmstadt in 1917, VISCOPLEX® found itself fending off strong competition on the market. This was accomplished by working very closely with customers to develop new products - an approach that was not common at the time - and by continuously monitoring quality. VISCOPLEX® is still marketed according to these two principles today, despite the fact that starting 1996 VISCOPLEX® was produced by a joint venture between Röhm GmbH and Rohm & Haas, Philadelphia, called RohMax Additives GmbH. ACRYLOID and PLEXOL, products previously produced by Rohm & Haas were integrated into the VISCOPLEX® family. In 1998, Röhm GmbH took over all the shares from Rohm & Haas. In 2001, there was further expansion with the purchase of the oil additive business from Rhodia, through which the products previously marketed as EMPICRYL were also included in the VISCOPLEX® product line. Today Evonik Industries produces VISCOPLEX® in Germany, France, the USA and Canada.