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New E-fluids Launched by Shell and Fuchs
© Shell

New E-fluids Launched by Shell and Fuchs

By Simon Johns - Oct 21, 2020

Royal Dutch Shell plc added fluids for light-, medium- and heavy-duty electrified commercial vehicles to its existing range of passenger car e-fluids. The new fluids are for battery and fuel-cell EVs and include transmission fluids, greases and battery coolants. Shell first launched onto the e-fluid and e-grease segment in May 2019 with a number of fluids optimized for passenger EVs.

While the number of commercial EV models is increasing, for public buses especially, sales are still lagging behind those of internal combustion engines. According to figures published by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, or ACEA, 0.3% of all medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in 2019 were electrically chargeable and hybrid. Almost all the rest were diesel-engined vehicles.

Shell is formulating the new products with a gas-to-liquid base stock made at its Pearl GTL refinery situated in Ras Laffan, Qatar. The company claims in a press release that GTL's low-viscosity properties improve powertrain efficiency by controlling temperature, oxidation, copper erosion and thermal conductivity.

The company also said that its new e-fluids provide 50% less oxidation compared with an undisclosed competitor's e-fluid (DKA oxidation test, 170 degrees Celsius for 192 hours); up to eight times lower electrical conductivity when cooling the e-motor under typical operating conditions temperatures compared with a conventional heavy-duty transmission fluid (DIN 53483 at 500 volts); more than three times less copper erosion compared with a competitor’s specialized e-mobility driveline fluid (ASTM D130 copper striip test, 168 hours at 50 C, and DIN 51399 measurement of copper in oil); and up to 9% higher thermal conductivity compared with a competitor‘s e-mobility driveline fluid (ASTM D7896-19 120 to 140 C).

Earlier on the year, Fuchs Petrolub SE launched a dedicated range of products for EVs called BluEV. The German independent joins a small but growing number of lubricant companies that are formulating fluids optimized for hybrids and plug-ins.

BluEV comprises three main products: DriveFluid, a transmission oil for electric and hybrid drivetrains; MotorGrease, a range of greases specifically designed for electric motors, which have rotational speeds around 15,000 revolutions per minute; and ThermalFluid is a dielectric heat transfer fluid that can function inside an EV's electrically charged environment.

According to its annual report, 45% percent of Fuchs' sales are automotive production, including passenger car motor oils of which there is none in a battery EV. Vehicle electrification, especially BEVs, represents a growing threat.