Grease Performance Requirements and Future Perspectives for Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Applications
Electric vehicle sales are growing globally in response to the move towards a greener environment and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. As in any machine, grease lubricants will play a significant role in the component life of these new power plants and drivetrains. In this paper, the role of grease lubrication in electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles (HVs) will be discussed in terms of performance requirements. Comparisons of grease lubrication in EVs and HVs for performance
... ements to current internal combustion engines (ICEs) will be reviewed to contrast the major differences under different operating conditions. The operating conditions for grease lubrication in these EVs and HVs are demanding. Greases formulated and manufactured to meet specific performance specifications in EVs and HVs, which will operate within these specific electrification components, will be reviewed. Specifically, the thermal and electrified effects from the higher operating temperatures and electromagnetic fields on lubricant degradation, rheology, elastomer compatibility, and corrosion protection of the grease need to be evaluated to accurately meet the performance requirements for EVs and HV. The major differences between EVs and conventional ICEVs can be grouped into the following technical areas: energy efficiency, noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH), the presence of electrical current and electromagnetic fields from electric modules, sensors and circuits, and bearing lubrication. Additional considerations include thermal heat transfer, seals, corrosion protection, and materials' compatibility. The authors will review the future development trends of EVs/HVs on driveline lubrication and thermal management requirements. The future development of electric vehicles will globally influence the selection and development of gear oils, coolants, and greases as they will be in contact with electric modules, sensors, and circuits and will be affected by electrical current and electromagnetic fields. The increasing presence of electrical parts in EVs/HVs will demand the corrosion protection of bearings and other remaining mechanical components. Thus, it is imperative that specialized greases should be explored for specific applications in EVs/HVs to ensure maximum protection from friction, wear, and corrosion to guarantee the longevity of the operating automobile. Low-viscosity lubricants and greases will be used in EVs to achieve improvements in energy efficiency. However, low-viscosity fluids reduce the film thickness in the driveline application. This reduced film thickness increases the operating temperature and reduces the calculated fatigue life of the bearings. Bearing components for EVs/HVs will be even more crucial as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) specify these low-viscosity fluids. The application of premium bearing components using low-viscosity grease will leverage materials, bearing geometries, and surface topography to combat the impact of low-viscosity lubricants. In addition, EVs and HVs will create their own NVH challenges. Wind and road noise are more prominent, with no masking noise from the ICE. Increasing comfort, quality, and reliability issues will be more complicated with the introduction of new electrified powertrain and E-driveline subsystems. This paper elaborates on the current development trends and industrial test standard for the specified grease used for electrical/hybrid driveline lubrication.