Lubricant suppliers are developing fuel-economy products that could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping
Lubricant suppliers are developing fuel-economy products that could help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. According to papers presented at CIMAC World Congress last month, several companies are working on new formulations that could reduce fuel consumption by cutting friction losses.
The development follows similar progress in the automotive market and represents a notable shift in focus for marine lubricant suppliers, who have traditionally focused on engine reliability rather than fuel consumption. New formulations will need to balance those demands.
Total Lubmarine has developed a fuel-economy lubricant for medium-speed, four-stroke engines that aims to reduce fuel consumption – and therefore greenhouse gas emissions – by one percent.
The company used viscosity and friction modifiers to create two experimental formulations of its Aurelia range, with base numbers of 30 and 40. Engine bench test results validated the products’ fuel economy performance at between 1-3% while confirming that the oils retained other important lubricant factors including engine cleanliness and wear resistance.
Total Lubmarine senior research engineer Catherine Amblard confirmed that the fuel economy tests will contribute to the development of the company’s future range. The new fuel economy lubricant is under test in the field.
Formulating fuel-economy lubricants for two-stroke engines could be a more challenging task, according to research presented by JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corp. The company recorded an improvement of around 3% on fuel efficiency in a Daihatsu 3DK-20 four-stroke engine with a fuel-economy trunk piston oil. But its efforts with fuel-efficient cylinder oil were less successful, with an engine test on a Mitsui-MAN 6S50MC two-stroke engine recording only a 0.5% improvement in fuel consumption (compared to simulation results of around 1.5%).
The company noted that the effect of a friction modifier additive was evident in the four-stroke oil but barely in the two-stroke formulation’s results. It attributed this to differences in engine speed and lubricating conditions.
In another paper, ExxonMobil and Chevron Oronite confirmed their interest in developing fuel-economy lubricants, revealing the results of a collaborative study into the accurate measurement of fuel efficiency performance for engine oils.
The authors of the joint paper concluded: “The results of this work will enable the development of high-performance lubricants to address key economic and sustainability issues, such as costs and emissions, within the marine industry through reduced fuel consumption.”