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Lubricants are essential in modern life. Car engines and gearboxes run smoothly through integration of sophisticated oils and greases. Lubricants are remarkable fluids. Irrespective of weather conditions, the engine oil has to operate reliably over temperatures ranging from -40 °C to above 250 °C – the temperature near the top piston ring. It also has to cope with pressures between 105 and 109 pascals, as well as contaminants including metal particles and soot.
Lubricants operationalise the major roles of controlled friction and wear in the engine, protection of engine from rusting, pistons cooling, and they protect the engine oil stored in the sump from combustion gases. Approximately, 75%-95% of a typical engine lubricant is made up of a base oil – a mineral oil that has come directly from a refinery.
These base oils can naturally contain straight or branched chains of hydrocarbons, hydrocarbon molecules with aromatic rings attached, or these chains can be produced by further chemical reactions of the base oils. Lubricants fall into two broad categories – monograde and multigrade – depending on whether their viscosity changes significantly with temperature or not.
The development of advanced lubricants to improve vehicle fuel efficiency can appear to be as simple as lowering the viscosity and frictional properties of a fluid. However, applied research studies have shown that it is quite difficult to quantify the fuel efficiency properties of advanced lubricants in vehicles.
In consideration being given to the Automatic Transmission based vehicle propulsion, ATF is integrated within the engine. ATF is designed to provide a long-lasting exploitation of automatic/hybrid transmissions. In order to make it possible, it is necessary to provide, in addition to the base fluid, also an additive package providing the required physical and chemical properties of the fluid.
Additives are chemical compounds added to lubricating oils to impart specific properties to the finished oils. Some additives impart new and useful properties to the lubricant; some enhance properties already present, while some act to reduce the rate at which undesirable changes take place in the product during its service life. Additives, in improving the performance characteristics of lubricating oils, have aided significantly in the development of improved prime movers and industrial machinery.
Automotive manufacturers made significant efforts to achieve an overall increase in energy efficiency and to reduce the toxic emission level. In the way to achieve these goals, non-conventional engine technologies were brought to the market with improved efficiency and controlled emission systems. Numerous other supporting technologies which include biofuels and newly improved lubricants were also involved to contribute to automotive engine system improvement.
The problem of friction and wear being inbred to the automotive application, further raise environmental hazards by way of more fuel consumption and wear debris. Effective lubrication of the relative parts in the automobile is required for smooth sliding over each other and to reduce friction and wear in order to decrease the emission and energy losses from the engine.
The recent manoeuvring in the market dynamics has been towards electric mobility, wherein the requirement of lubrication fuel exists in these commercial electric vehicles. The future success of electric mobility is the right sealing technology for a fully integrated electric powertrain. Lubricants and seals always interact very closely. Both are part of a tribological system, and their mutual compatibility is indispensable for both to function.
An innovative lubricant concept that is being used within the commercial viability of electric vehicles is based on ionic liquids. This modern, patented concept turns the lubricant into a lightning conductor to prevent harmful potentials from forming. In addition to the vehicle-relevant data like rpm, smooth operation and extended service life, this new generation of speciality lubricants also addresses the issue of electric conductivity.
In the present scenario of IC Engine based vehicular propulsion, it can be seen that the lubrication is attained via various methodologies and penetration through additional usage of materials. This helps in bringing up the efficiencies as additional functional elements.
Basically lower molecular weight hydrocarbons with about 12 to 50 carbon atoms are used in the commercial vehicles engines . As they are cheap, available in abundance and stable under service conditions, hence they are widely used. But the oiliness of mineral oils is less, so the addition of higher molecular weight compounds like oleic acid and stearic acid increases the oiliness of mineral oil.
In the present Market, there has been extensive usage of mineral oils-based lubricants, fixed oils which include specific volumetric proportions of animal, vegetable and fish oil inclusions, synthetic oils and fluids, soluble oils and compounds, semi liquid and plastic lubricants.
The Global Market of Commercial Vehicle Lubricant can be segmented into following categories for further analysis.
Improving environmental friendliness, reliability, durability and energy efficiency is of significant interest in the field of automotive industries. New techniques are being developed which include introducing new lightweight materials, less harmful along with controlled combustion of fuels, and effective lubrication which controls the environmental problems brought by the vehicles.
Effective lubrication of the relative parts in the automobile is required for smooth sliding over each other and to reduce friction and wear in order to decrease the emission and energy losses from the engine. To meet these challenges and to open up the new possibilities, new lubricants, and improved additives must be developed constantly.
The New technology and integration of material sciences has brought upon the usage of lubricants as a coolant function within the vehicular population and operational mechanism. Most of the lubricants that are produced do not have all the tribological properties. It was found that various additives are used along with the lubricants in order to improve its tribological properties.
Nanoparticles are relatively the latest class of lubricant additives. It involves the colloidal solid particles within the lubricating oil. The main component of nano lubricants is the lubricant/base oil, nano additive, and surfactant. Nano-additives in the lubricating oil improve the anti-wear properties; extreme pressure properties; and also enhance the friction properties of the lubricants.
The Most synthetic possibility of these lubricants includes the Polyalphaolefins which is the synthetic oil synthesized from linear paraffin and shows superior performance as compared to mineral base oils but its ability to absorb the additives is low due to its well-defined molecular structure.
Esters or naphthenic base oils are commonly added to the PAOs base oil to improve the additive solvency of the PAOs base oils. There are recent intrusions of the possibility for polymer-based additives within the base oil systems. A small amount of this polymer can be dissolved in the base oil, which will coalesce on the bearing surfaces and form a continuous quasi-static film on the bearing surfaces. This film is an order of magnitude thicker than the remaining viscous boundary layer created by the base lubricant. This is called matched molecular chemistry (MMC).
The current engine lubricants used in internal combustion engines (ICE) are responsible for reducing engine friction losses and contact wear. Therefore, the impact of engine oil viscosity and aging is of prime interest with regard to the motion of passenger cars and commercial vehicles in the global scenario.
The lifeblood of an engine is its oil, and all these changes are taking the demands of oil to new extremes. Fortunately, there has been enough access to the best oil technology that has developed a revolutionary process of turning natural gas, an exceptionally clean and consistent product, into an extremely pure base oil.
Shell’s Pure Plus technology provides a 99.9 percent pure end product, which means the oil can perform to a higher level than before and stand up to the demanding requirements of modern vehicles. It performs well in hot and cold weather, protects components, and can handle the long breaks between oil changes.
In concentration being given towards the Electric Vehicle manufacturers, they have been recently focusing upon hydro lubricants containing water as a base oil show extraordinarily low friction and an improved cooling effect. The lubricant can help to extend the travel range of electric vehicles and reduce gearbox temperature by up to 17 °C compared with conventional lubricants. With the lower temperature, engineers have more options for their vehicle design.
Commercial electric vehicles manufacturers which include Tata Motors, and others have been looking upon the grease based lubricant technology improvisation in specific to usage within the commercial electric mobility solutions. This was recently tried through Lithium-containing greases, which are soap-based formulations manufactured by saponification with lithium hydroxide (or, less frequently, lithium carbonate). Their dropping point temperature of 190-220 C (374-428 F) is higher than that of calcium greases; they adhere well to metal, are non corrosive and resist moisture.
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