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The Effectiveness of Esters in Cooling and Lubricating Transmission Systems in Electric Vehicles-Dielectric Fluids


Project Description

Energy conservation and emissions reduction have become increasingly significant for automobiles due to high energy demand, fuel economy and environmental concerns. Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) technology and fully Electric Vehicles (EV) are one of the most promising solutions offering a much lower fuel consumption and considerably low emissions. Emerging new driveline configurations bring new challenges in developments of HEV/EV fluids. Many different configurations have been conceived which use different methods of cooling and lubrication. Not only are these fluids essentials for lubricating and cooling the new types of powertrains and transmissions, but they are also needed to regulate the temperature of the vehicle’s battery and power electronics. As hybrids and EVs become increasingly powerful and their battery ranges and charging speeds improve, standard fluids are unable to keep up in terms of robustness, heat resistance and cooling capacity. These conditions could be controlled by base fluid or advanced additive technology.

New technical constraints for the electrification of vehicles require the development of new fluids with long lasting dielectric properties in harsh operating conditions such as high temperatures, oxidation, humidity and particle abrasion. The fluid should also be compatible with components of the electric/hybrid vehicles such as copper as key component in electrical wiring. In addition, the fluid needs to have an excellent thermal properties to cool the high heat generation in electric motor often exceeding 180oC. Last but not least, the fluid needs to fulfil the standard lubrication properties to reduce friction, wear, oxidation and corrosion in mechanical parts.

The overall aim of the project is to investigate the thermal properties of esters and how they could be used to both cool and lubricate areas such as gears and electric motors used in hybrid and fully electric vehicles. It is also possible that they could be used to cool sensitive components such as electronics, regulating temperature and allowing better efficiency.

The project will be carried out in collaboration with Croda and will be conducted at the Institute of Functional Surfaces (IFS), School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds

The specific objectives are:
•    To assess thermal properties of Easters by rigorous numerical and experimental studies. 
•    To investigate the tribological and tribochemical performance of Easters in lubricating electric transmission systems. 

Funding Notes

UK/EU – Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council Studentships paying academic fees of £4,600 for Session 2020/21, together with a maintenance grant of £15,285 for Session 2020/21 paid at standard Research Council rates for 3.5 years. UK applicants will be eligible for a full award paying tuition fees and maintenance. European Union applicants will be eligible for an award paying tuition fees only, except in exceptional circumstances, or where residency has been established for more than 3 years prior to the start of the course. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis.

How good is research at University of Leeds in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.80

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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