Understanding Base Oils and Lubricants for Electric Drivetrain Applications 2019-01-2337
The penetration of hybridization and electrification (HEV and EV) technology into automotive powertrain designs is an evolving trend resulting from global regulations intended to reduce transportation-related emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants and to improve vehicle fuel efficiency. In many HEV and EV hardware designs, drivetrain fluids have contact with the integrated electric motor (e-motor), which requires electrical and thermal properties to be considered in addition to traditional fluid properties.
This paper discusses new insights gained around electrical and thermal properties of drivetrain fluids, with a specific emphasis on understanding the critical impacts of base oils (BOs). Electrical and thermal properties data as a function of temperature for a range of BOs as well as automatic transmission fluids are shared. We found that BOs and their viscosities play a critical role in cooling performance, while additives play a critical role in electrical conductivity (EC). That being said, we also have observed that additives in BOs can modify cooling performance. We will demonstrate how each component in the additive package affects EC and in some cases cooling performance. The successful utilization of this knowledge is demonstrated on a proof-of-principle basis to show that fluids with appropriate electrical and thermal properties can be designed to meet critical factors for electrification such as cooling capacity and EC, while still maintaining essential performance features for conventional driveline fluids.