Technical and Regulatory Requirements of Lubricants Set to Become Stricter
In the automotive field, increasingly powerful engines are placing ever greater loads on transmissions and higher demands on the oil used. The central challenges in the sector – lightweight construction, fuel savings and the increase in electric motors – require innovative fluids and greases.
FUCHS Lubricants South Africa Product Manager Automotive, Fatima Moolla, says that the technical and regulatory requirements of lubricants are set to become stricter which will lead to a growing need for high-performance lubricants with increasing product specialisation and individualisation.
She explains that new high-performance materials such as plastics, coated materials or titanium and aluminum alloys used in the aerospace and medical engineering sectors also require innovative processing fluids with new properties.
“The urgency of socially and environmentally relevant topics, such as climate change or scarcity of resources, demand new approaches within the added value chain. Keywords include CO2 reduction, energy efficiency, fuel efficiency, regenerative resources and recycling. FUCHS is facing up to these challenges.”
“Because crude oil is a finite resource, set against this background, substitutes are now more in demand in the lubricants industry. Renewable raw materials include vegetable-based oils such as rapeseed oil. The discussions on ‘food competition’ from technical use of vegetable oils have led to searches for alternative raw materials that are not suitable for food or fodder production,” she says.
FUCHS says it participating in the interdisciplinary initiative Advanced Biomass Value of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). This project focuses on the development of an integrated recovery chain for conversion of third generation algae and yeast-based biomass.
The objective is to produce aviation fuels, functional lubricants, and new building materials. Lipids which are contained in certain types of algae can be used to produce high-grade lubrication components.
In the BMBF research initiative Zero Carbon Footprint, the recycling of carbon-rich waste streams is being investigated for production of functional biomass. The project aims to generate reusable materials from waste.
“The keyword here is waste-to-value. The carbon contained in industrial waste water, sewage sludge and flue gas is to be converted into valuable building blocks for industrial production through microorganisms that use the waste as substrates. FUCHS says the focus of research activities lies in the field of functional base oils and additives. Complex molecules are to be gained through enzymatic modification for use as base fluids or additives,” says Ms Moolla.
The research alliance Technofunctional Proteins of the BMBF is researching the structure-function relationships of vegetable proteins that are not suitable for food and fodder production. The project is dedicated to the use of modified proteins as additives within the scope of lubricant manufacture. Proteins of this kind can be gained from agricultural waste materials.
“Electric mobility also requires lubricants. The increased use of electric motors to drive individual mobility and their further development are placing new requirements on lubricants. Even if no conventional engine oils are used, electric vehicles and in particular those with high power densities still require both lubrication (for rolling bearings and transmissions) and cooling.”
“Electric drives in automobiles therefore require new approaches, not only in an attempt to comply with specific requirements, but also to improve the overall system with new solutions. One way in which FUCHS addresses these questions is in the ongoing EU project entitled Optimised Electric Drivetrain by Integration (ODIN). Robert BOSCH GmbH is the coordinator of this project and FUCHS is the lubricant partner,” concludes Ms Moolla.