In the last decade, the automotive industry has seen rapid changes, looking to improve fuel economy and energy efficiency in mechanical systems. These changes present new requirements and specifications for automotive lubricants. Rapid development of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (EV) with new operating conditions, along with using lower viscosity lubricants to improve energy efficiency, brings new challenges for lubricant and fluid developments, particularly for driveline fluids. Base oil properties have become more critical as lubricants shift to ultra-low viscosity, where balance of the lowered viscosity and desirable physical properties becomes challenging.
- E-modules, including gearboxes, e-motors, bearings, clutches, electrical components, and new materials, bring new challenges for EV fluids.
- Synthetic base oils, including the novel-PAO base oil like SpectraSyn MaX, and their fully formulated blends show excellent thermal properties, oxidative stability, energy efficiency, film thickness, clutch performance, etc.
- High pressure-temperature viscosity testing suggests possible phase transition of Gr II/+ or Gr III/+ base oils and their blends, which could result in unanticipated consequences in mechanical systems like bearings and gears.
- Gr IV and Gr V synthetic base oils can help develop more efficient fluids for EV applications with superior properties for a safer, more efficient, and longer service life.
- ExxonMobil Chemical Company has been a leader in developing novel molecules for lubrication applications, and the work that is described here builds on this expertise and applies it to the emerging challenges of EV fluid formulations. Future research will further develop our understanding of the advantages of using synthetic base oils in these emerging applications.