EV challenges for lubes industry

The lubes industry must meet the challenges of EVs and hybrid vehicles.

A diverse range of engine technologies is already under the bonnet or chassis of many different vehicle models.  

Hybrid vehicles require special lubrication solutions from engine oil, to oil for the drivetrain with many different types of fluids required. During speeding up, a hybrid vehicle switches from one to the other engine at the proper time, yielding a win-win in terms of energy efficiency. This comes with challenges like an increased risk of engine wear and the formation of moisture and acid.  

These special conditions result in low oil temperatures, the ingress of water and the formation of sludge which can degrade the oil over time.

Water-based lubricants which have already been developed, could have a positive effect on electric drive train efficiency, leading to a substantial reduction in friction losses and better thermal properties compared to a traditional oil. However, it’s important not to compromise on the lifetime on transmission components like bearings and gears.

Addressing these challenges, a new project will explore how water-based lubricants can improved the high efficiency of EVs. The Swedish Energy Agency has granted China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT) resources to lead the “Longer Driving Range by Efficient Transmissions” research with SKF and Luleå Technical University.

“The electric vehicles of the future place new demands on materials and technologies. Through this collaboration we will expand our knowledge of water-based lubricants, giving us great insight into the future needs of sustainable vehicles,” said Gregory Zimmerman, Director Product Line Electric Vehicles, SKF.

Tommy Brandt, system engineer at CEVT, says, “We look forward to continue our work on water-based lubricants since it is a way to reduce the use of oils with fossil origin. It is very exciting to start optimising the tribological system for a completely new type of lubricants. Oil lubricants have been developed over more than a hundred years. Now we must learn how surfaces and materials must be chosen to maximise performance for this lubricant as well.”