1 year ago

MOTOREX Magazine 2014 103 EN

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INSIDE Dr. Markus

INSIDE Dr. Markus Kurzwart is Head of Research and Development for MOTOREX. He and his team work hard to discover the lubricants of the future. What they’ve found out is already delivering promising results in pilot projects! STILL PLENTY OF POTENTIAL FOR INNOVATION … If you think just about everything has already been invented, you’re mistaken. A conversation with Dr. Markus Kurzwart, Head of Research and Development at MOTOREX, makes it clear just how much unsuspected potential for economic and environmental innovation applied lubricant technology (tribology) still holds. Picutre: fotolia Dr. Kurzwart, how long have people actually been studying friction? We know that the great polymath Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) was already conducting pioneering experiments involving friction toward the end of the 15 th century (see illustration). The interesting thing is that these basic findings are still valid today! Obviously our laboratories look a little different today [laughs], since we wouldn’t be able to tackle R & D projects with the necessary precision and speed without the latest analytical equipment and IT-supported processes. What research and development projects are you and your team focusing on? We always have a goal and certain focus areas in mind when we do research and development. As a manufacturing company operating in a free-market economy, we concentrate on market-oriented R&D projects. We often work closely with public universities and institutes on these projects, such as ETH, EMPA and the CTI (the Swiss Commission for Technology and Innovation). Could you tell us about a few of the key areas of your current R & D work? Certainly. The areas we focus on are often interconnected, so it’s not always easy to draw clear lines between them. These are a few of the areas we’re currently focusing on: 16

Leonardo da Vinci carried out basic research into lubricant technology in the late 15 th century. Precisely the right lubricant for every application: MOTOREX has an extremely broad product range and expertise in lubricant technologies. 1. Improving energy efficiency by reducing friction and wear 2. Developing special lubricants for research projects 3. Using sustainable resources/alternatives to traditional raw materials 4. The impact of lubricants in further reducing emissions 5. A few projects that are not yet ready for publication Just how much scope is there still for improving energy efficiency? Lubricants play a key role in improving the efficiency of combustion engines. In motor oils, the trend towards ever lower-viscosity (thinner) formulas continues unabated, and SAE 0W/20 will soon be the standard viscosity. To make it possible to reduce viscosity without increasing wear, our department developed a new low-friction additive set that ideally reflects the load profile for all friction conditions (dry, mixed and fluid friction). The coefficient of friction is directly related to energy consumption in all applications with moving parts. In addition to lowering friction, we’ve also managed to improve protection against wear enormously, as measurements by EMPA have confirmed. Does MOTOREX also develop to order? Lubricants have become an engineering element in many areas today. Requirements for different applications have become highly complex due to the incredible diversity of materials in use, environmental conditions and compliance with mandates. For example, there are currently about 50 OEM specifications for passenger car motor oils alone, and the trend is rising! What does nature contribute to your work? A great deal! New chemical production and refining processes are increasingly making it possible to employ natural and renewable raw materials in a form we can use. That lets us replace ingredients that may be critical in various respects or that take an unreasonable amount of energy to produce. The idea of sustainable business is gaining in importance here too. Globalization means national regulations have to be harmonized. Are you feeling the effects of globalization? Globalization means national regulations have to be harmonized. Here we have the GHS, the Globally Harmonized System, for material classification. From time to time it happens that a material is approved in the United States, for example, but not in Europe. Naturally this is unacceptable for customers with international operations, so our recipes have to conform to regulations that apply internationally (REACH, GHS labeling, etc.). Compiling the necessary safety data sheets and labeling our products is a major challenge for us. What can you learn from customer samples? By examining used lubricants, we can obtain information about how the unit is used and its condition, similar to a blood test in a human. That also lets us determine whether the product can still be used or has to be changed. But what we learn from analyzing tens of thousands of customer samples also contributes significantly to the development of new products. Thank you very much for this interesting interview. • MOTOREX MAGAZINE 103 I DECEMBER 2014 17



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