Driving forces for fuels and lubricants

Innovative chemistry will play a critical role in developing sustainable solutions for a sustainable future.

The race to reach net zero is well underway, with many of the key energy and transportation companies setting ambitious targets, which will shape their strategies and investment choices well into the future. The transition to a more sustainable way of living means huge changes ahead for the energy, transportation and associated industries.

This video explores how all this change is dramatically influencing the direction of the fuels and lubricants industry.

2020 was an unprecedented year of change and challenge.  As a direct consequence of the global coronavirus pandemic, people adapted to new ways of living and working, while trying to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.  Businesses and industries experienced disruptions unlike anything before.  In the energy sector, global demand dropped significantly, with oil, coal and natural gas usage declining - all in contrast to a rise in the contribution of renewable energy sources.

In more positive news, CO2 levels returned to where they were a decade ago, with air quality visibly improving across the globe. Prior to Covid, CO2 levels had been rising steadily for years. Accounting for approximately 75% of all greenhouse gases, CO2 reduction is therefore understandably a core focus of sustainability goals and legislation.

Today, the transportation industry contributes about a quarter of all CO2 emissions – the vast majority coming from on-road vehicles.

Having already witnessed the dramatic consequences of our world getting warmer, legislators and companies are taking action to restore balance. If anything, the pandemic has accelerated the desire to achieve sustainability goals faster. Governments are moving forward with infrastructure programs to boost economies and create jobs, placing a large focus on renewable energy and efficiency.

The race to reach net zero is well underway, with many of the key energy and transportation companies setting ambitious targets, which will shape their strategies and investment choices well into the future.

All this change is dramatically influencing the direction of the fuels and lubricants industry.

“The transition to a more sustainable way of living means huge changes ahead for the energy, transportation and associated industries. As the world works to decarbonise, we will play an important role in delivering new products that form the lifeblood of global trade, transportation and power generation.

For Infineum, focus on Life Cycle Analysis has provided new insights into the impacts of our current products and how we can improve their performance in the future.

The assessments show the majority of our products’ footprint comes from the production of raw materials. We are investigating these processes further to better understand their impacts and how they can be mitigated. We also plan to extend our analysis to include downstream activities and how lubricant additive performance can incrementally lower vehicle carbon footprint. This holistic approach will ensure that life cycle sustainability of new products can be designed in from the start.”

In pursuit of sustainability targets, the future will be full of new vehicle technologies, new propulsion systems, new fuels and new materials. All of which will bring new challenges for lubricant, fuels and additive suppliers to overcome.

Without a doubt, transportation electrification will be a key driver towards a net zero future. Despite this trend, the internal combustion engine looks set to be with us for several decades to come. While there is still a high degree of uncertainty about how this picture will change, estimates suggest that by 2040, at least 45% of new vehicles will still contain an internal combustion engine.

Despite rapid growth, only 4% of the 80 million new car sales in 2020 were plug-in or full battery electric. That’s mainly due to the fact that OEMs have a wide array of available options, and electrification does not necessarily mean fully electric. While electrification is the long-term direction for transportation propulsion, technical and practical challenges mean that its rate of adoption will vary dramatically not only by region but also by application.

 “Infineum will continue working to make engines as clean as they can possibly be. We’ll produce market-leading products that keep engines in service for longer to extend component and vehicle life. We’ll use our considerable formulating knowledge and experience to help vehicle manufacturers reduce emissions and improve the fuel economy of their applications.”

“At the same time, we’ll invest heavily in research and development to explore opportunities to apply our products and skills to new applications, such as hybrid vehicles, new transmission technologies or larger engines in the marine and power generation segments.”

One thing is abundantly clear – whatever lies ahead, innovative chemistry will play a critical role in developing sustainable solutions for a sustainable future.

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