Castrol innovation business Nexcel has announced the successful completion of the first phase of its hybrid development programme: the launch of a trial hybrid vehicle fitted with a Nexcel oil cell and dock. Installation of the system, which provides 90-second oil changes and a closed loop used oil recycling system, was undertaken by Prodrive Advanced Technologies. The engineering consultancy has carried out NEXCEL’s conversion plans to physically demonstrate the packaging potential in a 2018 Toyota Prius Plug-in, which will showcase the sealed oil cell technology in the first hybrid electric application of its kind.
BP’s 2018 Energy Outlook forecasts substantial increases to the number of cars on the planet to 2040, with an increasing proportion of hybrid electric vehicles and a continued rise in the number of cars with internal combustion engines.
“We are working to manage the transition from today’s combustion engine to these future powertrains, in a way that complements their environmental performance and can be conveniently packaged in the engine bay. ” says NEXCEL sustainability director, John Ward-Zinski. “Nexcel’s active oil management can help to enhance the engines role in hybrid electric powertrains.”
Nexcel located the oil cell dock in the engine bay, in the site formerly occupied by the 12 volt battery, which has now been relocated under the rear passenger seat. There is plenty of space around the cell for ease of access and removal. “We knew this was a neat technical solution, but the under-bonnet packaging solution has pleasantly surprised us – from an aesthetic and ergonomic perspective,” remarks Ward-Zinski.
NEXCEL sees the cell technology as highly relevant to the hybrid vehicle sector. “The improved efficiency of hybrid electric fleets will provide a heightened return on investment for operators, and the environmental benefits of NEXCEL fit perfectly with the sustainable appeal of hybrid powertrains,” says Ward-Zinski. “The mess-free, sealed oil cell streamlines the used oil re-refinement process and helps to ensure that the waste oil will be collected after use. Defined oil grades can be separated, which helps provide an improved grade of base oil during the process due to lack of contamination. This can then be reused in refurbished NEXCEL cells, reducing the reliance on virgin materials.”
Incorporation of NEXCEL also provides benefits to future hybrid powertrain. “The oil change is the last remaining routine service task actually performed on the engine, so consideration of NEXCEL at a vehicle’s design stage could provide considerable packaging benefits. The traditional oil sump, drain plug and block-mounted filter will now be redundant, so access for routine servicing is no longer a key factor, opening up potential for considerable vehicle packaging innovation,” concludes Ward-Zinski. “The benefits of NEXCEL technology are not simply limited to the powertrain – they could extend throughout hybrid vehicles of the future.”