Interview with John Eastwood, Head of Global Business Development at Croda Energy Technologies

  1. How is Croda addressing the global shift in attitudes within the automotive market?

We have been creating, making, and selling novel, high-performance engine oil additives for 40 years now, moving with legislation and adapting to market demands and changes in oil technology. We have seen a revolution in the engine oil market over the last five years and there are tough demands from both legislators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). These demands are underpinned by a global drive to protect our planet, reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change. Indeed, we are seeing that many engine oil formulators and OEMs are voluntarily aligning their innovation efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and aim to deliver engine oils with better environmental stewardship.

We are now seeing the use of ultra-low viscosity engine oils and grades such as 0W20 and 0W12 are gaining popularity to meet CO2 reduction targets and deliver improved fuel economy. Exploring these grades pushes the additive manufacturer to design and optimise new chemistries that deliver the performance demanded of them and this concept is fundamental to our work in this area. As we look to the future, in Energy Technologies we are at the interface of the internal combustion engine and the zero-emissions electric vehicle. Vehicle electrification is fast becoming recognised as vital in helping us become more sustainable and protect our world.

Our work for the future applies our decades of expertise to help formulators meet the needs of the new and emerging market of immersion cooling fluids for battery and hybrid electric vehicles. The automotive sector is now focused on creating highly efficient, power dense and lightweight electric motors, batteries and power electronics. Drivers of electric vehicles want to drive over longer ranges and this will require batteries to charge quickly and efficiently and with this demand will evolve many safety implications of being able to do so. Thermal management is now the key challenge to overcome to unlock maximum performance as well as addressing safety concerns for the consumer.

We believe that over the next 5-10 years, direct liquid immersion cooling of electric motors, batteries and power electronics will become increasingly important as forced air cooling and indirect liquid cooling will not continue to meet the high-performance needs of the market. For high performance and demanding applications, our esters will be key in helping formulators tune their cooling fluids to the specific requirements of the electric vehicle.

2. What technologies or materials does Croda Energy Technologies specialise in?

Sustainability is central to Croda and 67% of our raw materials come from bio based sources. We interweave sustainability and build on fundamental scientific concepts such as surface modification, dispersancy and rheology control and utilise a large armoury of chemistries to address our customers’ needs. Some of our focus areas are:
1. Automotive – both for internal combustion engines as well as electric vehicles – ester base oils, thickeners and friction modifiers for the formulation of engine and transmission oils as well as dielectric fluids for batteries.
2. Wind energy and industrial gear oils – we offer REWITEC™ DuraGear® to repair and protect wind turbine gearboxes and bearings as well as base oils and friction modifiers for industrial gearbox oils.
3. Marine – environmentally acceptable lubricants (EALs) are a big focus for global shipping and our ester base oils are used to formulate EAL stern tube lubricants. We also focus on ingredients for hydraulic oils, trunk piston oils as well as marine fuel additives.

4. Oil production – we specialise in paraffin inhibitors and asphaltene dispersants for the efficient production of natural crude oils.

3. What innovations and new product applications are you currently working on?

Some of our latest products include:

1. Xenitron™ 3221 – a biodegradable dielectric base oil that can be formulated into battery cooling and transmission fluids for electric vehicles.

2. Perfad™ XG 2500 – a next generation friction modifier which is especially suitable for hybrid vehicles to increase the working lifetime of molybdenum dithiocarbamate (MoDTC) containing engine oils.

3. Flowsolve™ M Series – high-performing fuel additives for marine applications that ensure that asphaltenes stay dispersed in the fuel and reach the engine to be burnt. The marine segment is a new and exciting avenue of exploration for us and we are innovating to deliver solutions such as improved hydrolytic stability and ingredients with more environmentally acceptable credentials. We do all of this without compromising on the high performance we are known for.

4. What will you be looking out for at the Lubricant Expo 2022?

We love to meet like-minded innovators and customers with challenges to overcome. We are natural problem solvers, so come and speak to us!

Croda will be exhibiting on stand 530.