March 29, 2005

Lubmarine installs new test engine

Maritime lubricants supplier Lubmarine, a unit of oil major Total, has installed a $2 million MAN B&W test engine at its TOTAL Research Center (CRES) at Solaize, near Lyons, France.

The five cylinder MAN B&W Innovator-4C test engine replaces the single-cylinder Elf-Optimizer test-bench, based on a Pielstick PC2.6, first installed at Solaize twenty years ago and extensively modified in 1994 to cope with changing development needs.

The new engine will maintain Lubmarine's competitive edge in developing and testing new formulations and in undertaking fundamental marine lubricants research.

The new engine, based on an MAN 5L 16/24 (160 mm bore, 240 mm stroke) unit, has undergone a highly innovative redesign, specified by Lubmarine.

Its five cylinders have been reconfigured into three separate lubrication circuits, two for testing and one for operational requirements.

The engine has also been fitted with multiple high-tech sensors and a comprehensive electronic control and information management system. It is equipped to analyze exhaust gas, in anticipation of future more stringent environmental controls on emissions of particles and oxides of sulphur and nitrogen.

The Innovator-4C will be used for validating both two-stroke and four-stroke engine oil formulations before proceeding to in-service trials, and for fundamental research, including experiments with new additives, synthetic and biodegradable base stocks.

"The cylinder configuration of the Innovator-4C lets us compare two formulations at the same time under precisely the same temperature and pressure conditions," explains Denis Lancon, head of the marine lubricants team at Solaize. "Carrying out two tests at the same time means more tests are possible on a given formulation within a given timeframe. The very high safety margins of the MAN 5L 16/24 mean we can push lubricants much further in testing, and it also allows us to obtain meaningful results faster, more than doubling our previous testing productivity."

"Lubmarine's primary aim remains to manufacture and market a range of lubricants of the highest quality--products that meet our customers' demands not just for today but for the future," says Lubmarine general manager David Bleasdale. "The Innovator-4C gives us the unique ability to test new-generation lubricants in a closely controlled environment. It will be a major asset in our quest to supply lubricants that give greater fuel economy, lower maintenance costs and longer engine life. The Innovator-4C also allows us to test a wider range of formulations more cost-effectively, with savings that can be passed on to customers in competitive pricing. And of course we'll be testing Lubmarine formulations against rival lubricants to ensure that we stay ahead. In the absence of industry-wide specifications, this is the only meaningful performance benchmark."

"To stay in the lead in the increasingly high-tech field of marine lubricants, you must have top R&D tools," says Claude Ouvrier-Buffet, head of Lubmarine's Marine Technical Dept. "A test engine plays a key role in the development process, so having a proper marine engine specially adapted for research purposes gives us a big advantage."


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