By Tom Curtis
President, Lubrizol Additives
It’s no secret that transportation is one of the biggest generators of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As of 2016, the U.S. EPA estimated that transportation makes up 28% of total GHG Mobile sources - Pollutant exhaust gases created by the combustion of fuel. Water and CO2 are not included in this category, but CO, NOx, and hydrocarbons are and are thus subject to legislative control. All three are emitted by gasoline engines, while diesel engines also emit particulates that are regulated. Stationary sources - The release of sulfur oxides and particulates from power stations that can be influenced by fuel composition. Local authorities control the sulfur content of heavy fuel oils used in such applications. generated annually in the US. That’s a first-place tie with electricity generation. Of that 28%, 60% is generated by light-duty vehicles; medium and heavy-duty trucks come in at 23%; and aircraft, rail, ships and boats make up the rest.
With that in mind, clean transportation development has become a top priority across the globe. And plenty of progress has been made. Lower-viscosity engine oils have helped engines operate more efficiently in a variety of applications. Hybridization has become mainstream. Fully electric vehicles are becoming increasingly commonplace.
Some of the progress is remarkable. According to recent data from ResearchAndMarkets.com, “About 2 million electric vehicles were sold globally out of which 68.7% were battery electric vehicles (BEV) and 31.3% were plugin hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) recording a YOY market growth of 57.3%. China retained its market leadership for the 5th consecutive year with a 55.5% share, selling approximately 1.1 million electric vehicles (75% of it being BEVs and 25% PHEVs) and recording a 63.5% YOY market growth.”
New advancements are continuously being made, too. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are beginning to make a splash in countries around the world, with a recent Forbes article highlighting the promising technology. “Fuel cells are inherently more efficient than combustion engines, which must first convert chemical potential energy into heat, and then mechanical work. They are also cleaner than ICEs: the only byproduct is H2O–water—and it’s clean enough to drink. Hydrogen fuel cells can be thought of as batteries that never run flat as long as the H2 keeps coming.”
In today’s world, especially in evolving forms of transportation, sustainability is the driving force behind most new developments. Clean transportation is an increasingly critical priority, and OEMs across industries are working toward new and different strategies to achieve those goals.
We believe that chemistry, in all its forms, plays an integral role here. New engine and transportation technology will have increasingly complex lubrication needs, and we believe that additive technology for the lubricants that enable more efficient vehicles and engines will be critical moving forward.
Because we also know that durability is a major part of the sustainability imperative, we believe that lubricants will continue to provide essential protection to help new equipment live out long, useful lifetimes. Consider how advanced lubricant and fuel technology has helped solve the issue of LSPI in recent years—it’s not hard to imagine similar situations arising as clean transportation advances even further.
Everyone involved in advancing clean transportation—from oil marketers and lubricant manufacturers to OEMs to fleet operators—is in this together. Improved sustainability is all of our responsibility.
As clean transportation technology continues to advance, fluids and lubricants will remain an important part of the conversation for the foreseeable future. We’ve seen how new technologies in this space have made an impact—and Lubrizol is committed to the greatest sustainability of transportation.
More than half the vehicles on the planet rely on Lubrizol technology, and we’re continuously aiming to bring more strategic thinking to our sustainability efforts and realize a greater impact for our customers and for the planet.