Shared Research for Future Lubes?


British consultancy Ricardo plc has proposed a consortium of oil, lubricant additive and automotive companies to evaluate and research the lubricant challenges posed by future fuel-efficient engines.

The demand to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by developing vehicles that consume significantly less fuel will require innovations in lubricants, the company said. Further significant improvements in diesel and gasoline engine fuel economy will require an integrated approach to investigate and research the fundamental lubricant challenges of new engine technologies.

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Ricardo, headquartered in Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex, England, is proposing a pre-competitive, consortium-based research program for the mutual benefit of participating companies.

Areas of interest for the consortium include:
1)the implications of extreme engine downsizing and increased specific power;
2)tolerance to increasing volumes of exhaust gas recirculation in combustion systems;
3)the chemical impacts on lubricants of biofuel dilution;
4)advanced component designs and new material applications
5)the drive to thinner, lower viscosity lubricants for reduced friction.

Ricardo proposes that the consortiums work be structured into a series of modules, with the first being the focus on the effect of downsized light-duty gasoline and diesel engine technologies on lubricant soot levels and engine wear. Subsequent modules could focus on ultra-low viscosity lubricants and their potential benefits for reducing fuel consumption, and lubricant effects on emissions and after-treatment performance in future engines.

To improve fuel economy and reduce carbon emissions, said Craig Goodfellow, Ricardos project director for fuels and lubricants, it is essential that the oil, lubricant additive and automotive industries can work together. In launching this pre-competitive consortium-based research program, we aim to enable participating companies to pull forward robust solutions to some of the fundamental challenges we face in delivering new standards in fuel efficiency and reduced CO2.

Ricardo plans a first consortium meeting in October, and invites companies interested in participating or in receiving more information to email

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