Lubricants Research Laboratory

About the Lubricants Research Laboratory

Since its opening in 1968, the Lubricant Research Laboratory has been constantly working with our customers on the research and development of advanced lubricants and lubrication technologies. The products developed in the Lubricants Research Laboratory include a wide range of products such as automotive lubricants, industrial lubricants, and greases, which are being developed in collaboration with four product development groups and three basic research groups. Recently, with the SDGs in mind, we have been focusing on developing products that are friendly to the earth and workers, such as carbon neutral products, and on improving working environments.
The Lubricants Research Laboratory will continue to support innovation in the "manufacturing field" by anticipating issues from the customer's perspective and promoting the "creation of technology that makes dreams come true" with the lubrication technology we have cultivated over the years.

Exterior view of Lubricants Research Laboratory

Main Activities / Research Contents - 01 Development of Fuel-efficient Lubricants for Automobiles

Against the backdrop of the global goal of reducing CO2 emissions, technological innovations in the automotive industry are now accelerating. Lubricants are no exception to this trend, and are required to have even higher functionality. In the Lubricants Research Laboratory, we are working on the development of new technologies based on the design of lubricants at the molecular level, which fundamentally controls the physical and chemical interactions of lubricants.
In engine oil, for example, lower viscosity improves fuel economy at higher engine speeds, but at lower engine speeds the oil film is insufficient and the increased contact with metal parts reduces fuel economy. We have therefore developed a technique to assess the behavior of friction modifiers in the nanoscale gaps between solid surfaces, with the aim of identifying friction modifiers that can characteristically reduce friction in mixed and boundary lubrication areas where more contact occurs between metals. We are now developing engine oils with optimum friction modifiers selected and formulated on the basis of their functions at the molecular level. In addition, we are using a large synchrotron radiation facility (SPring-8) to visualize the behavior of macromolecules in oil and to develop next-generation engine oils that can control these macromolecules.

Internal Combustion Engine

Main Activities / Research Contents - 02 EV Conversion of Automobiles and Metal Working Oils

With the shift to EVs for automobiles, the leading role of parts will change from engines to motors, batteries, and semiconductors, which will also lead to a change in the need for metal processing oils in the machining process. In our laboratory we are working on the development of punching oils to optimize the post-treatment process in the punching of the electromagnetic steel sheets for the motor core material, thereby contributing to the high efficiency and high power density of the motor. We are also actively developing next-generation products, such as deep drawing oil for the lithium-ion battery case mounted on EVs, which contributes to the stability and improvement of the quality of molded products, and Ingot cutting-off oil for SiC, a power semiconductor material, which is used in inverters that convert the DC power of the battery to AC to supply it to the motor.

EV Conversion of Automobiles and Metalworking Oils

Main Activities / Research Contents - 03 Development of Industrial Lubricants (for wind power generation)

Our laboratory has been developing industrial lubricants to meet the latest needs of our customers and social trends, based on the concept of "supporting life and industry around the world." We are developing No. 1 and Only 1 lubricants to meet the needs of a wide range of machinery, from large industrial machinery such as power generation equipment and construction machinery to home appliances such as air conditioners and DVDs/BDs. In recent years, we have been focusing on the development of lubricants for the realization of a decarbonized society. In particular, bearings, gear oil, hydraulic oil, and grease are used for the wind power generators that are expected to be the trump card for the 2050 carbon neutral goal. In order to reduce the running cost of wind power generation systems and to ensure stable operation over a long period of time, we believe that it is essential to extend the life of the lubricant and make the machinery and equipment, including the lubricant, maintenance-free. Recently, we have been working on the development of lubricants that contribute to the advanced use of wind power generation through industry-academia-government collaboration.

Wind Power Generator
Gears

Main Activities / Research Contents - 04 Test Analysis and Performance Evaluation of Lubricant Materials - Mechanism Elucidation and Digital Application

Lubricants such as oils and greases contribute to the performance and longevity of machines and equipment by reducing friction and wear, cooling, and protecting surfaces. We are contributing to the rapid development of products by understanding the properties of lubricants, analyzing changes in chemical composition during degradation, film formation on the friction surface, and microscopic morphological changes, estimating the lubrication mechanism using measurement and analysis technologies, and providing rapid feedback for base material selection and performance evaluation.
In recent years, we have also been working on the development of technologies that not only improve the efficiency of development work, but also contribute to the improvement of productivity for our customers, such as AI-based analysis of the causes of abnormalities, search for new compounds, and cloud-based remote monitoring systems.

Example of elemental mapping by EPMA
Example of contact stress analysis using precise 3D profiling

Main Activities / Research Contents - 05 Development of New Base Materials for Lubricants

In order to achieve a carbon-neutral society, we need to continue to develop products with high functionality, high added value, and environmental friendliness, but these products may not be compatible with commercially available base materials. Therefore, we are developing promptly new base materials for high-performance lubricating oils by investigating "Know Why."
We are highly integrating organic synthesis, computational chemistry, and industrialization, the pillars of technology, to meet the diverse and potential needs of our customers in detail. In the laboratory, we synthesize and evaluate a variety of compounds and use molecular modeling and simulation software to predict how molecular structure relates to the physical properties and behavior of the base material, and design optimal compounds. Then, using the facilities of the pilot plant, we produce several tens of liters of the optimal compound found in the laboratory and provide it to the customer in a short period of time. Some of the major achievements of our laboratory to date include high performance traction oil used in the world's first toroidal CVT car, car air-conditioning oil with a large global market share, and refrigeration oil for air conditioning, all of which contribute to the realization of a fuel-efficient and low-carbon society.

Toroidal CVT oil
Refrigeration machine oil for alternative CFCs

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Address
24-4, Anesaki Kaigan, Ichihara-shi, Chiba, 299-0107, Japan
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