Commitment to a more sustainable future

Infineum discusses future directions in transportation additives and energy applications at ICIS, London

The ICIS World Base Oils and Lubricants Conference is always packed with new ideas and insights, while also providing a great platform for industry leaders to share their thinking. This year’s 28th event, held in London, was certainly no exception. Insight reports on the keynote session delivered by Aldo Govi, Infineum CEO, and on the paper delivered by John Brenchley and Tom Featherstone on hydrogen, showcasing an example of how Infineum’s innovative chemistry is supporting a more sustainable future for transportation.

The ICIS World Base Oils and Lubricants Conference returned to London this year, where it played host to more than 400 delegates from 45 countries. Infineum CEO, Aldo Govi, was invited to deliver a Leadership Keynote Session, in which he set out Infineum’s purpose of creating a sustainable future through innovative chemistry. He also took the opportunity to explain how the recent restructuring of the organisation into two strategic business units, Sustainable Transportation and Energy Applications, will help support future ambitions.

Aldo GoviAldo Govi, Infineum CEO, at the 28th ICIS World
Base Oils and Lubricants Conference

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Infineum and, as colleagues around the world celebrate this amazing milestone, Aldo took the opportunity to share details on how Infineum will continue to be a sustainable, world-class business in the long term. “When Infineum was formed, it brought together over 70 years of experience along with the best technology and best people and we are very proud of our achievements over the past 25 years. Now, combining our established capabilities with new ambitions, we are looking to the future, where we aim to create a world-class sustainable specialty chemicals company. One of the first steps we have taken on this journey is to reshape the organisation by creating two Strategic Business Units (SBU). The Sustainable Transportation SBU underlines our commitment to the transportation industry, while the Energy Applications SBU is looking at broad diversification by moving into new markets.  However, I must reiterate that our purpose of creating a sustainable future through innovative chemistry continues to unite us.”

The Energy Applications SBU, will drive growth into existing and new resilient sectors maximising the value of Infineum’s unique technology and technology applications. Aldo shared more about the focus of this new SBU. “I see an opportunity that is bigger than the transportation industry and it’s to do with the quality of chemistries and the competencies we have developed being transferable into sectors that are not too far away but that also face similar challenges. As a company looking at surface friction, for example, which is important to the transportation industry for a number of reasons such as fuel economy and lower emissions, you can take that experience and venture out into new areas such as coatings and adhesives. These, and other areas we are exploring, were not part of the original mission of Infineum, but they are part of our vision for the future."

We continue to be driven by innovation and will increasingly be driven by an appetite for creating sustainable solutions.Aldo Govi, Infineum CEO

The Sustainable Transportation SBU will support personal mobility and commercial engines, including trucks, buses and ships. The focus here is on enabling the energy transition by reducing the carbon impact of the internal combustion engine and supporting the use of low and zero carbon technologies and fuels.  As Aldo confirmed, “This industry is very important, but we're seeing a pace of change like never before and, at the same time, complexity is also increasing. Electrification is coming and creating pressure in a number of segments while in others different challenges are anticipated. So all of those things together create a situation where there is scope to keep investing into this industry. And, when you bring together our ability to create value and you couple it with enabling the transition to a new sustainable future by reducing the carbon impact of the internal combustion engine and through the development of alternative fuels, from an Infineum stand point, we think the scope is huge.”

As a demonstration of its continued commitment to the transportation industry and in particular supporting the transition to low and zero carbon fuels, Infineum also presented a strategic paper on the hydrogen internal combustion engine.

Sustainable transportation

To remain leaders in sustainable transportation additives, it is vital for Infineum to explore and understand the latest developments. As John Brenchley and Tom Featherstone explained in their session, although electrification is one of the future energy options for transportation, hydrogen internal combustion engines are a good fit for some applications, especially in the heavy-duty sector.

John started the session by exploring the current and future fuels mix across the different transportation sectors.Most of the energy for transportation today is provided from non-renewable fossil sources. But, the global macro drivers are forcing change and the world is looking for cleaner and more sustainable options. Electrification is seen as a good fit for passenger cars, with some 22% of the vehicles produced in Europe being full battery or hybrid-electric in 2023. But, in the heavy-duty vehicle segment, for example, the high pay load capacity requirements, long journeys, high utilisation rates and lack of re-charging infrastructure mean battery electrification is more challenging. Here, OEMs are looking at a number of other low and zero carbon energy options including the use of hydrogen in internal combustion engines or H2ICE as it is becoming known.”

Focus on hydrogen

Tom FeatherstoneTom Featherstone talked about the hydrogen internal
combustion engine or H2ICE

Tom continued the session with a closer look at the pros and cons of H2ICE, focussing in on the fuel and lubrication related challenges. “Everyone is looking at hydrogen ICE. OEMs and consortia across the globe are working to solve the technical and infrastructural issues in deployment and, although they haven't all committed to production, we are getting closer to seeing these vehicles on our roads. But, there are a number of challenges that moving to hydrogen from the fuels we know and use to fuel combustion engines today raises – and, as we gain more experience, I expect these challenges to continue to evolve. For now, we see pre-ignition, water management, lubricant related hydrocarbon emissions and hardware related performance challenges as the key issues we must help to overcome.”

H2ICE lubricant phenomena

Many OEMs and other active industry bodies are reporting pre-ignition as the main challenge for H2ICE, Tom explained how Infineum has invested in the development of a new test for this phenomenon. “We have measured and quantified the problem and have developed a statistically robust and repeatable pre-ignition test. Using the test, we looked at currently available API CK-4 products and can differentiate between them based on their pre-ignition performance, which means we can recommend advantaged products to our customers."

We are now at a point where we can direct customers towards the right additives and base oils for the next generation of products that deliver excellent pre-ignition and water handling performance.
Tom Featherstone, Infineum

As Tom concluded, the use of proven tests will be vital in helping OEMs to make informed lubricant choices. “In our tests we have seen that existing heavy-duty engine oils designed for diesel ICEs are capable of providing acceptable performance in H2ICE. However, when combined with additive booster packages current engine oils can deliver additional performance benefits in the key areas of pre-ignition and water management. In the long run, we believe this market will demand oils that have been formulated specifically for H2ICE, delivering superior performance in the most severe field conditions against all drive cycle challenges. Infineum is investing to stay at the front of the developments needed to respond to the growing hydrogen market and has solutions available today to support the introduction of H2ICE engines.”

Download this article

View more articles in this category

Lubricant trends All articles

Get technology news, opinions, specification updates and more, direct to your inbox.

Sign up to receive monthly updates via email