Global drive for standardization in EV fluids and technologies

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Lubes em Foco Magazine – issue 91

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Standardization in EV fluids and technologies

In 2023, around 90 million passenger vehicles were produced globally, with 11% being battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). Electric vehicles (EVs) are increasingly becoming mainstream in the automotive market. However, the diversity in EV designs highlights the lack of standardized specifications or norms for their construction, components, and interfaces. This lack of standardization extends to EV fluids, where there are no standardized specifications and test methods as there are for conventional engine oils.

Efforts are underway to address this gap, with several industry players establishing working groups dedicated to developing standards and performance specifications for EV fluids. At F+L Week 2024 held in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on March 7-8, Emmanuel Matray discussed ongoing initiatives in the United States, France, Germany, and China, to name a few. Matray is head of the Performance Fluids Department EV, Transmissions and Industry of TotalEnergies Lubrifiants SA, based in Paris, France.

In the United States, the SAE J3200 – TC3 Electric Drive Fluids Task Force (2022) brings together OEMs, additives, and oil companies to develop new performance properties and suggested test methods for EV fluids. Another significant initiative is the Advanced Fluids for Electrified Vehicles Consortium (AFEV), led by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), an independent, nonprofit applied research and development organization headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. AFEV is investigating challenges in e-mobility such as high speeds, corrosion concerns, and thermal properties.

In France, GFC (Groupement Français de Coordination) is exploring new aspects of EV fluids, including dielectric properties, high-speed wear, copper corrosion, and water issues. GFC is a French non-profit organization established in 1963, initially by the IFP (Institut Français du Pétrole), now known as IFPEN. Its main objective is to develop and refine testing procedures for the oil industry, engine manufacturers, and users, in coordination with other European entities, specifically addressing the unique requirements of French manufacturers and their brands.

In Germany, FVA Project 827 I, a collaborative effort involving the Forschungsvereinigung Antriebstechnik e.V. (FVA), the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechatronic Systems Design (IEM), and the Institute for Drive Systems and Power Electronics of the Leibniz University of Hannover (IAL), is conducting a preliminary study on high-voltage e-drive oil. This platform aims to facilitate the modeling, model coupling, and simulation of electric drives for research and industry experts.

China’s NB/SH/T 6042-2021 is an industry standard that ensures that lubricants for electric vehicle reducers meet specific criteria to provide effective lubrication and protection for electric vehicle gear systems. It specifies product varieties, requirements, test methods, inspection rules, marking, packaging, storage, and delivery acceptance for lubricants produced using mineral, synthetic, or semi-synthetic oils. This standard was issued on November 16, 2021, and was implemented on May 16, 2022. The Research Institute of Petroleum Processing (RIPP) is leading a group primarily focused on developing a comprehensive EV fluid specification (GB/T) with an emphasis on new testing methods for durability, efficiency, and more.

In Japan and South Korea, efforts are mostly undertaken at the OEM level, with limited publicly available information.

Matray used the F+L Week forum to unveil TotalEnergies Lubrifiants’ new global EV specification dedicated to EV fluids. The pioneering standard encompasses a comprehensive electric drive unit (EDU) specification with robust benchmarks and internally developed methods. The initiative is geared towards assisting TotalEnergies’ partners in smoothly transitioning to e-mobility, says Matray.

One might wonder why the lubricant arm of global energy company TotalEnergies is taking the lead in developing a comprehensive EV fluid specification. Matray proposed it was their responsibility as a lubricant player and marketer to drive quality improvement in the EV segment, especially in the absence of any comprehensive specifications. TotalEnergies does not aim to substitute OEMs’ expertise, but to leverage their extensive lubricant knowledge and experience to fill the gap, he says.