On February 25th, 2014, Shell Lubricants, in association with IIT Madras, conducted the third instalment of the ‘Shell Lubricants global lecture series’– its first in India. The sprawling IIT Madas campus in Chennai played host to the day-long event, which served as a platform for academia, industry personnel and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to share their perspectives and conduct a detailed analysis on a looming energy crisis, along with understanding the potential in addressing the energy challenge through the collaboration of lubricant companies and OEMs at the design stage.
Dr Selda Gunsel, vice president of Shell Global Commercial Technology and one of the speakers at the event said, “At Shell, we believe lubricants -- alongside new fuel and engine technologies -- have a unique and vital role to play in meeting the global energy challenge. Our research shows that fuel economy can be improved by using the most suitable quality lubricant for an engine, and that even higher savings can be achieved when the lubricants provider and the automotive original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, work together to develop bespoke products for a particular vehicle. This involves long-term co-engineering projects within the industry.”
Professor Gordon Murray, renowned designer of the McLaren F1 road car and more recently, the T25 and Yamaha Motiv urban cars, laid heavy emphasis on co-engineering. The chairman of Gordon Murray Design (GMD) said, “At GMD, we are developing innovative cars that challenge every aspect of car design concepts, including lubrication. A lubricant is a vital engine component that has more potential than most for improving a vehicle’s fuel economy and cutting its CO2 emissions. That is why we have been working closely with Shell as technical partners since 2010. We share the same drive for fuel efficiency and innovation in an energy challenged world.” In fact, GMD’s T25 city car resulted in a 6.5 percent improvement in fuel economy by using bespoke low-viscosity engine oil alone.
“Indian legislature is at a point of introducing fuel efficiency and CO2 emission norms for OEMs to follow. Designing hardware in close association with lubricant manufacturers will help us achieve these new requirements in the future” said, Dr Tim Leverton, head of advanced and product engineering at Tata Motors.
Speaking to Autocar, Rick Finn, corporate strategy team, Infineum, expressed his views on the vital role chemical additives can play when designed in conjunction with OEMs and lubricants to unlock even more gains in terms of fuel economy and lowered emissions.
The internal combustion engine shouldn’t be written off just yet and will play an important role in our foreseeable future especially since its practicality, costs and simplicity, is very hard to replace with alternative fuel technologies that are still in their infancy.
Engine oils play a vital role in preventing damage to the engine’s moving internals. However, they also act as a mild resistance to the piston and hence absorb a bit of the engine’s energy. While an off-the-shelf engine oil is designed to provide the best compromise between engine life and performance across various engines, an oil, co-engineered with the engine manufacturer will be more focussed in its role and promises optimum performance in terms of fuel economy and emissions. The gains may not be substantial at the consumer level, but as a cumulative figure, promises to be a significant step in reducing the carbon footprint.