By Matthew Stock
Motor-oil firm Castrol, part of the BP Group, has launched a removable container that packages the oil and filter into one unit, making changing a car's oil a far simpler task. The Nexcel oil cell is to be fitted as standard in the new Aston Martin Vulcan track-only supercar, while the technology is expected to be in regular cars within five years.
The developers say the bucket-shaped unit makes an oil change much easier and cleaner. Currently, a car needs its engine warmed up to reduce the oil's viscosity, before it's hoisted up in the workshop and the oil drained into a drip pan. Nexcel makes it possible to complete the job in less than a tenth of the time it normally takes, according to Nexcel's chief engineer Oliver Taylor.
"A typical oil change today takes about 20 minutes to complete. With the Nexcel system it takes only 90 seconds to do the full oil service. So the Nexcel oil cell contains the engine oil and filter. So by taking the oil cell out of the car and putting a brand new oil cell back in; that's it - oil change done," Taylor told Reuters.
He added that Nexcel delivers a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions on modern engines, "because it allows the engine to work more efficiently, to warm up and then enables precision lubrication".
When the oil is ready to be changed, the sealed unit also prevents contamination of the used oil. This oil can then be re-refined back into a motor lubricant. Castrol says that if every car in the world was fitted with the Nexcel unit, it would save 200,000 road tankers worth of oil from being produced, every year.
"Those Nexcel oil cells, once they're used, come back to Nexcel for recycling where we split them apart, clean and re-use them a number of times. But also we take that used engine oil, we pass it through a re-refining process, and that allows us to use the oil a number of times," said Taylor.
British luxury sports carmaker Aston Martin is using the Nexcel system in the track-only supercar, the Aston Martin Vulcan. CEO Andy Palmer said having the Nexcel system installed was a key component in making the Vulcan a cutting edge model.
"When we talk about efficiency in engines, the oil efficiency is absolutely key to this. And working with Castrol, with lubricants, basically working together; allows us to both exploit each other's strengths. And I think basically the Nexcel system is a perfect epitome of what you can get out of a relationship when it's working together well," said Palmer.
Testing and installing Nexcel in a low volume car like the Vulcan gave Castrol the opportunity to accelerate the oil cell's development "onto the technology adoption curve", according to Taylor.
He added that consumer car models fitted with Nexcel are likely to go into production within five years.
"We're working with a number of other vehicle manufacturers to develop the first road car applications. And we expect to see them in the next two to five years. After about five years we expect to see the first systems with really with big volume manufacturers on the market; and they're the kind of cars that you or I would drive."