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2016-03-31

Castrol Hopes To Reinvent The Oil Change With New Technology

At Adeptia, our goal is to make things better — and not just by developing great integration solutions. We’re committed to helping improve the quality of life for our customers, our employees, and our planet. Technology has transformed our lives by improving everything from healthcare to communications. But we can all do more, which is why we’ve launched a series featuring technology that makes the world a better place.

Oil changes are one of those essential preventive maintenance tasks for extending the life of your vehicle. For most consumers, regular oil changes involve paying someone to handle the dirty work. But now, Castrol has unveiled Nexcel, a new technology that promises to disrupt the automotive industry by transforming oil changes into a two-minute do-it-yourself job.

Nexcel is a self-contained unit, about the size of a standard car battery, that contains both the engine oil and filter. In addition to being consumer-friendly, the new system is being touted as an oil conservation measure by Castrol, part of British petroleum giant BP.

Motor oil is an essential engine lubricant. Regular oil changes help reduce wear and tear on engine components by reducing friction. That, in turn, helps lower emissions, improve gas mileage, and extend engine life.

A conventional oil change today requires emptying the vehicle’s engine sump, aka oil pan, and replacing the filter. In the U.S., spent oil must be disposed of in accord with federal regulations. Because of the steps involved, many consumers prefer to pay for oil changes.

But the Nexcel unit combines the oil and the filter into a self-contained unit that will make it easy for most consumers to handle the job themselves by simply pulling out the old unit and replacing it with a new one.

“We believe this is the biggest leap forward in oil change technology in the history of the combustion engine,” said Paul Waterman, Castrol’s CEO. “It’s the result of almost three years’ work, but as soon as people see the benefits in emissions and servicing, as well as the substantial environmental benefits, they’ll wonder why it hasn’t been done before.”

Steve Goodier, Nexcel’s program director, notes that the new system is designed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) exhaust emissions and increase the recycling of used automotive oil. By refining used oil back into high-quality lubricants, Nexcel could help facilitate the recycling of more than two billion gallons of oil a year.

“Nexcel has been designed to reduce tailpipe (CO2) emissions by ensuring a precise oil-engine match and helping the oil to warm up more quickly,” Goodier said. “Today only 18% of waste oil is re-used, Nexcel allows us to change this, increasing the total to over 80%.”

The Nexcel system has been tested on a range of engines, from average road cars to high-powered racing cars. According to Castrol, the system functions smoothly even under severe driving and braking conditions.

Now, before you rush out to buy a Nexcel unit, make sure you own an Aston Martin Vulcan race car. The new Castrol technology is an OEM add-on that is currently being tested on one make and model.

“At the moment Nexcel is only available on the track-only Aston Martin Vulcan, but Castrol is in discussion with OEMs and other industry players to promote adoption in future vehicle production,” says Angela Strank, BP’s chief scientist and head of downstream technology.

If the technology is embraced by automakers, it could go into mass market production within five years.

The DIY component of Nexcel will mean time savings for consumers, but not necessarily cost savings. The new technology will require OEM design changes. In particular, it requires real estate in the engine compartment. Those changes, along with the cost of the unit itself, could increase the sticker price of a new car.

What’s more, Castrol has not disclosed how much a replacement unit will cost, making it difficult to predict how Nexcel might one day compare to an average oil change price of about $35. In the U.S. alone, that’s currently about an $8 billion annual industry.

While the Nexcel project is still a work in progress, one thing is clear: Next generation technology can drive the development of usability and sustainability in real-world applications.

Greg Sandler, a B2B content development expert and freelance writer, has worked on a wide range of business integration and web development projects. He also has written for hundreds of publications, organizations, government agencies, and private sector clients. In addition to editorial experience, Greg has extensive copywriting and scriptwriting experience. He also has both print and online custom publishing and advertorial experience. Check out his profileon LinkedInor send him an e-mail.

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