Nexcel Claims Benefits for Hybrids
BP’s Nexcel sealed-cell oil system – initially launched in 2015 and then marketed primarily as a means for faster oil changes – can work in tandem with hybrid drivetrains as a means to control carbon dioxide emissions, company officials said.
Nexcel was originally introduced as a means to faster oil changes and a way to reduce the amount of oil wasted during oil changes. Now the manufacturer is touting its benefits to engine thermal efficiency.
The technology uses a self-contained cell that holds the correct quantity and grade of engine oil required by a particular engine. It includes an integrated filter and uses an electric pump to move oil between the cell and the engine. During an oil change, lubricant is pumped out of the engine and into the cell. A Nexcel oil change can take only 90 seconds and is completed from above the engine.
“All engines are expected to warm up quickly, but Nexcel helps by holding back the top-up engine oil, keeping the engine at an optimal oil level, so the remainder [of the engine] warms up faster,” Marc Payne, formulation manager at Nexcel, told Lube Report. “The energy needed to warm up oil is considerably more than to warm up steel, a quarter as much; or aluminum, half as much.”
Nexcel explained in a white paper on hybrid electric vehicles that this rapid warm-up is particularly helpful for hybrid vehicles because they aim to halt the engine whenever possible to reduce emissions and fuel consumption.
“Hybrids can often spend long periods running below ideal operating temperatures, with more viscous oil creating higher than necessary drag,” the company stated in its white paper.
“Nexcel technology provides control of the oil volume held within the engine’s sump, moving lubricant between the sump and cell’s reservoir on demand. This capability eliminates the need to always heat the engine’s entire supply, while still providing sufficient oil whenever it is needed.” Any improvements to the warm-up process will have a positive impact on carbon dioxide results obtained via Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure testing, the company said.
Nexcel has developed a Toyota Prius demonstration vehicle – not in partnership with the car maker. The car is non-functioning, the company said, but does help to illustrate that Nexcel can be flexible when it comes to packaging under a car’s hood.
“Nexcel would need to be designed into a new vehicle or an updated existing model by the vehicle manufacturer working closely with Nexcel,” Payne explained said. “This is not retrofit technology to be installed in existing vehicles. Taking the technology into the design stage allows a number of other innovations.”
The company believes its technology would be cost effective in comparison to other technologies for reducing CO2 emissions,such as dual clutch transmissions, electrically assisted steering, stop-start engine technology and cylinder management/deactivation.
“The current cost of Nexcel indicates it is similar to electric power steering in cost per gram terms, around $45, and significantly better value than many CO2-reducing technologies,” Payne said. By comparison, dual clutch transmissions for example have an estimated cost of $60 per gram of CO2 reduction, according to Nexcel.
Based in the United Kingdom, Nexcel is an automotive technology start-up originating from BP’s Castrol.