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Ricardo Launches Consortium to Evaluate Lubricant Challenges of Future Low Carbon Engine Technologies

Ricardo has launched a new consortium to evaluate the lubricant innovations required to enable implementation of many very promising low-friction and high-efficiency engine technologies and increasing use of biofuels.

While previous advances in engine technology have been based on separate and parallel developments by the fuels and lubricants industries, it is increasingly apparent that further significant improvements in diesel and gasoline engine fuel economy will require an integrated approach between automakers, Tier 1 equipment providers, oil companies and lubricant additive manufacturers, Ricardo said.

By bringing together interested parties from each of these industry sectors, Ricardo aims to create a framework in which fundamental challenges in this area can be investigated and researched in a pre-competitive manner for the mutual benefit of participating companies.

Particular areas of interest for the consortium include:

  • The implications of extreme engine downsizing and increased specific power;
  • Tolerance to increasing volumes of exhaust gas recirculation in combustion systems (with consequent issues for soot in oil, wear and sludge formation);
  • The chemical impacts on lubricants of biofuel dilution;
  • Advanced component designs and new material applications; and
  • The drive towards thinner, lower viscosity lubricants for reduced friction.

The work of the consortium will be structured into a series of modules, the first of which will focus on the effect of downsized light duty gasoline and diesel engine technologies on lubricant soot levels and engine wear. Subsequent modules—to be discussed and agreed in advance by the participating members—are likely to focus on enabling ultra-low viscosity lubricants and their potential benefits in terms of friction reduction on fuel consumption, and lubricant effects on emissions and aftertreatment performance in future engines.

The new consortium has already generated interest from many leading oil companies, lubricant additive manufactures and automakers, and is currently open to applications from prospective members in advance of its first meeting of interested parties in October 2009. Companies wishing to register an interest in participating or obtain further information should contact [email protected].


Henry Gibson

Perhaps some company can be induced to make air bearing microturbines with 5KW and 10KW outputs. Put them in a plug in hybrid. They are already more efficient in that use than any standard piston engine and can run on any fuel. No lubricant other than air is needed. ..HG..


When they can make a gas turbine as cheaply as a 4 cylinder engine, that may just come to pass. Until that time, they will go with what is cheapest and does the job. Market systems are very practical in that sense.

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