Growing awareness for greener alternatives has put increased pressure on OEMs to innovate faster and develop technologies that focus on optimising traditional as well as future mobility. Evonik has been developing a host of innovative technologies to reduce energy consumption, curtail CO2 emissions, while boosting efficiency with advanced lubrication of engines & drivetrains, low friction parts, and reduced rolling resistance of tyres. Auto Tech Review spoke to Sanjeev Taneja, President and CEO, Evonik India, to understand more about its multi-pronged approach for a greener tomorrow.
ENHANCING VEHICLE EFFICIENCY
Taneja said the common concepts of mobility are facing challenges from dynamic trends across the automotive industry. While automotive fuel lines traditionally have been developed with steel and rubber, the application spectrum changed dramatically as a result of stricter regulations, he added.
Evonik’s ‘Vestamid’ is a PA12 (polyamide 12) composite that finds application in automotive fuel line systems. It offers low-temperature impact resistance, chemical resistance, high elasticity and good resilience.
Owing to its lightweight structural properties, PA12 can reduce the overall weight of multi-fuel line systems (resulting in a weight reduction of up to 50 %), thus making the system more fuel efficient. The thermoplastic material is easy to process (dye or mould) and enables design-free implementation across demanding applications. Taneja said Evonik supports OEMs to optimise resource efficiency and focusses on meeting the key demands of the automotive industry for sustainable transportation.
Global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and improve fuel efficiency drive the automotive transmission technology towards much more refined gear designs and increasingly sophisticated controls. Such trends along with vehicle owner expectations for drive & shift quality, drain intervals and component durability, have created the need for higher lubricant performance, the Evonik India CEO pointed out.
Evonik has also been developing advanced hydraulic fluid additive technologies for a wide range of applications such as automotive, industrial, aviation, industrial, and off-highway to reduce product wear and tear during demanding operations. Evonik’s viscosity index improver (VII) Viscoplex reduces torque losses & operating temperatures, optimises energy efficiency to obtain component service life durability, stated Taneja.
These diverse product lines find applications in various areas such as engine oils, driveline fluids, biodegradable fluids, hydraulic fluids, de-oiling applications and biodiesel.
Apart from energy-conscious driving and powertrain improvements, weight reduction in vehicles is the preferred method for saving fuel and reducing CO2 output. In this regard, the company said its product Rohacell is a sandwiched composite structure that can reduce chassis weight by as much as 30-50 %. Compared to monolithic composite structures, the sandwich technology with a lightweight foam core ensures reduced weight without sacrificing rigidity. Taneja said the structural foam core products & technologies, and efficient production processes with 3D rapid prototyping can lead to innovative composite designs becoming lightweight realities.
Taneja said the automotive sector continues to face enormous challenges as enhanced performance along with fuel economy and emissions compliance are compelling industry stakeholders to optimise vehicle efficiency. This includes tyre manufacturers as well, as components of the treads have a huge impact on a vehicle performance. As pollution continues to be a cause of worry for many countries, the automotive industry continues to hunt for greener options and focus beyond the traditional rubber and carbon black combination for tyres.
Evonik has developed greener tyres with precipitated silica for improved rolling resistance as well as weight reduction that in combination results in fuel economy. Silica acts as active filler in the treads and ensures wear resistance in the tyre. Evonik’s combined silica with silane (inorganic compound) makes it compatible with S-SBR (Solution Styrene Butadiene Rubber) rubber grades, he explained. With Evonik’s Silica/Silane technology, fuel savings could be in the range of 5-8 % and thus reduce CO2 emissions to comply with environmental norms, claims the company. As commercial vehicles manoeuvre around the length and breadth of the country, Taneja claims greener tyres will prove more beneficial in the heavy duty segment as compared to the passenger car tyres.
Evonik is also focussing on the adoption of newer technologies to serve the steadily growing demand for electric vehicles across the globe. The company has been focusing on battery cooling lines and reducing battery weight by introducing the Rohacell technology with thermal management of battery, motor, converter and inverter in EVs.
As far as India is concerned, the government can provide a more conducive environment for the automotive industry, Taneja observed. However, he said it is more about the execution part now and also about creating a balance between price and quality. India is still struggling in terms of adopting a balance between traditional and futuristic technologies given the switch of emission standards from BS IV to BS VI. Taneja believes while focussing on the organic and inorganic approach for growth, partnering with local technology leaders will drive the automotive industry towards a greener tomorrow.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja