The role of national laboratories and universities in developing new designs and materials would
be to develop new coatings and new manufacturing methods, and to conduct friction and wear
tests. The component suppliers would determine manufacturing feasibility and provide samples
to the engine manufacturers, who would develop specifications, oversee development, and
conduct engine tests.
Lubrication R&D should be directed toward the following objectives:
Enhanced maintenance by extending drain intervals and reducing the environmental
impact of oil disposal.
Reduced oil consumption through improved liner topography, ring geometry, and
interface details, along with consideration of metered delivery.
New formulation of base stocks and additives, including minimizing sulfur and
Other advanced concepts.
Fundamental investigations and precompetitive R&D might be done under the guidance of a
horizontally integrated committee of engine companies, but product-development efforts would
more appropriately involve a vertically integrated team of an engine company, its customers and
suppliers, and an appropriate national laboratory and/or university. In all areas of fundamental
research, significant programmatic participation by DOE's Office of Scientific Research would
be essential and enthusiastically welcomed by OTT and its industry partners.
Automobile manufacturers have long been concerned about fuel efficiency because of the need
to meet stringent CAFE requirements. The success of their efforts to date is reflected in the fact
that total annual energy consumption by automobiles in the late 1990s is slightly lower than at
the time of the 1973 oil embargo, despite a significant and continuous increase in the numbers of
vehicles on the road, drivers, and miles driven per vehicle. This is even more remarkable in view
of the American consumers' low level of sensitivity toward fuel efficiency, as is evident from the
explosive growth in sales of SUVs. In 1995, Class 1 and 2 trucks (pickups, vans, and SUVs)
consumed about 75% as much fuel as did automobiles and about 50% more than Class 3 through
8 trucks. It is estimated that by 2000 energy use by Class 1 and 2 trucks will exceed that of
automobiles and be nearly double that of Class 3-8 trucks.
Almost all of the SUVs in this country have spark-ignition gasoline engines. Consumers are
unlikely to switch to the much more efficient diesel engine solely to achieve fuel efficiency
without further incentives, because the initial cost of the diesel engine is much higher and the
public retains outdated and unfavorable notions about diesel engines. Although light trucks and
SUVs may eventually be powered by diesel or hybrid power plants, in the immediate future,
automotive companies must continue to make spark-ignited engines more efficient. Fortunately,
much of the R&D directed toward reducing friction and wear in diesel engines (e.g., coating
developments, lubricant developments, and fundamental mechanistic studies of friction and
wear) should be equally useful and effective in automotive applications.