With recent developments in petrochemical technologies and with the growing need to develop cleaner fuel without hampering combustion properties and octane ratings, lubricant service providers are keeping busy. Leading the innovation bandwagon in this space is Honeywell UOP, which has been a partner for the automobile industry in developing sustainable mobility solutions, for over a 100 years. Auto Tech Review met Simon Hobbs, Director, Strategy & Operational Excellence, Performance Material and Technologies, Honeywell UOP (Global) (U), and Steven Gimre, Managing Director, Honeywell UOP (India) (D), to discuss various aspects of lubricant development in India and the impact that upcoming BS VI norms are likely to have.
In terms of innovations for the automobile segment, the key criterion for the automotive fuel-refining sector is to meet the quality standards and requirements for BS VI by 2020. Gimre said that Honeywell, as a technology company, has all the expertise in place to provide BS VI compliance and has been working closely with its customers for the last two years specifically to develop lubricants compatible to the upcoming norms. The refining industry is fast gearing up to provide all the expertise required to meet the 2020 deadline.
The Honeywell India Technology Center in Gurgaon recently inaugurated its refrigerant laboratory to design, test and incubate new refrigerants, while helping OEMs transition to low-global-warming-potential (LGWP) alternatives. This is expected to revamp air conditioning and refrigeration technologies, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of a vehicle. By reducing the use of chemicals with high GWP, Honeywell aims to limit the global temperature increase to no more than 0.5° C by the end of the century.
Honeywell has developed a hydro-cracking technology to help diesel vehicles meet BS VI requirements. This technology selectively cracks or breaks down hydrogen molecules for diesel, altering its properties to meet the revised specifications. This method also ensures high productivity and efficiency, which reduces the cost of developing a BS VI-specific fuel. Gimre said that meeting the revised norms provides an opportunity to not only upgrade existing technology, but also ensure large-scale capacity expansion.
Developing clean fuel goes a long way in ensuring long-term environmental sustainability. The urgent need today is to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) and the next generation of refrigerant molecules developed by Honeywell do have low global warming properties, and also do not harm the ozone layer. Meeting the 2020 deadline in India is expected to serve as a case study in other global markets, where similar disruption might be expected.
GREEN MOBILITY SOLUTIONS
The challenge to develop highly efficient electric and hybrid vehicles has opened up avenues for technology companies to achieve enormous gains, said Hobbs. This holds true for autonomous cars well, which are expected to reduce travel times, thereby also reducing fuel consumption. The challenge is for hybrid vehicles, where an electric motor works alongside the IC engine – with electric technology expected to metamorphose significantly in the coming years, gasoline technology should complement the other half and will have to keep pace in terms of new developments.
Honeywell is a major player in the renewable energy domain and has commercially viable technologies in place for diesel and petrol engines, which help reduce emissions. Hobbs said that with global companies showing interest in India, Honeywell has been assisting them in making their products sustainable and in sync with Indian specifications. The challenge is to understand the supply chain management mechanism and ensure seamless operations for all mobility partners.
The Internet of Things (IoT) presents a vast potential for technology service providers and with electronic sensors now becoming cheaper, Honeywell is in the process of identifying ways and means to assimilate all the data available, with the processing power available, in smaller footprints. To address these challenges, Honeywell has a Connected Performance Services (CPS) vertical, which takes advantage of all the data available in a refinery and with the use of big data analytics, helps customers increase the reliability of their products.
THE WAY FORWARD
Being the pioneer in petrochemical technology and having invented solutions like the emission-control catalysts and high-octane gasoline, Honeywell intends to have emission control as its top priority for the years to come. Hobbs said that there will be a continuance in the efficiency drive in most markets and hybrid vehicles will be the next big thing to watch out for.
India will be the second largest energy consumer in the world by 2040 and this will put immense pressure on existing resources. It thus becomes imperative to develop clean mobility technologies for the future. Fossil fuels are expected to continue their dominance in the automotive sector, albeit with improved octane properties and more efficient combustion characteristics. And Honeywell is well poised to address many of such future opportunities.
TEXT: Anwesh Koley
PHOTO: Vasu Anantha