Valvoline Ushers in New Era of Environmental Stewardship

Valvoline Ushers in New Era of Environmental Stewardship

Valvoline is providing solutions for ICE vehicles to be as clean and long-living as possible to benefit the environment of today and tomorrow.

When Dr. Roger England slides into his 1968 Hemi Cuda during a drag racing event, he’s not thinking about the emissions his >9L displacement engine is emitting or the sustainability of its products. Instead, he’s laser-focused on the timing of the starting line, his foot pressing on the gas, the fast acceleration, the traction and trajectory and his shift points—all of those occurring in a mere nine seconds while he covers a quarter mile. But the sense of personal responsibility for the planet remains top of mind for England, vice president and chief R&D officer for Valvoline Global Operations, who has played an instrumental role in guiding Valvoline’s R&D team to many sustainability firsts in his tenure with the company.

“It’s a fun place to be in getting to work with race cars while making a very positive impact to the planet,” England says. “I have some grandkids now, and it’s important for me to know that they’re going to have an opportunity to do the things that I did.”

That includes racing— and driving in the most environmentally conscious way possible. For England, his values and Valvoline’s mission line up. The company has drawn on its rich history to launch its latest product, the Restore & Protect Motor Oil, which is touted as the“first of its kind” for removing engine deposits while restoring the engine to like-new condition. Zooming out, you’ll see that this product represents a sliver of the philosophy that Valvoline Global Products is embodying in the market today: Get better every day. That includes environmental stewardship.

“We want internal combustion engines to be as clean, efficient, durable and long living as possible because that’s the best thing for the environment today,” England says. “We’re decreasing a vehicle’s environmental impact while maintaining mobility because we don’t want people to have a financial or social impact that decreases their quality of life.”

ICE Sustainability

A look at the car parc and vehicle buying market today, and you quickly understand why this is the Valvoline brand’s current approach: Electric vehicles (EVs) make up 1.2% of all vehicles on the road in the US, according to the US Department of Energy. Sure, that number is rising, as 7.6% of new vehicles sold in 2023 in the US were electric. But still, EVs are out of reach for much of the population, with the average price of a new EV around $50,000 (used ones cost around $30K). This means ICE vehicles will still be on the roads for the foreseeable future, and solutions are needed to ensure they can be sustainable and aid in the fight to decrease emissions globally.

“If we can work to increase fuel economy and efficiency today, then that makes an environmental change today and that happens across all those vehicles in the car parc,” England explains.

This served as the inspiration for the Restore & Protect Motor Oil. Aftermarket professionals know that vehicle owners are keeping their cars longer, and the average vehicle age is inching closer to 13 years.

“In a high mileage vehicle, this product is ideal,” he said. “Removing these carbonaceous deposits that are inside the engine not only increases the engine’s longevity, but it also decreases emissions. If you keep the piston rings clean, you can better seal the cylinder, and you’re going to decrease your emissions in that vehicle. It’s environmentally the right direction to go.”

Valvoline-Restore-and-Protect

In older engines, the Restore & Protect Motor Oil will also remove deposits left by other oils from previous oil changes while protecting the engine from harmful deposits for years to come.

“It’s a complete game changer in how the industry is going to move forward,” England proclaims. “We (Valvoline) were the first motor oil. We were the first racing oil. We were the first high mileage oil, and now, we’re the first ones with an oil that actually removes deposits and restores the cleanliness of an engine. That’s huge. I think that shows that we’re constantly innovating. We come from this long line of firsts and we’re continuing that legacy.”

Hybrids: The Next Frontier

When England looks at the vehicle makeup on the road today, he sees hybrids as a growth area as they offer a more realistic solution to lowering vehicle emissions. EV charging infrastructure and battery technology will take time to develop. With hybrids, drivers can literally take their car on an 800-mile road trip and not have to worry about finding a charger and waiting for the battery to charge.

“A hybrid has the ability to recover kinetic energy during braking, which decreases the environmental impact and increases fuel economy,” he says. “We’re seeing more aggressive hybrids, and that’s a space we need to be in.”
Valvoline Global Operations responded to this in 2019 with the launch of its Hybrid Vehicle Full Synthetic Motor Oil. What makes it unique for a hybrid? England says it’s made with “trap and lock technology” — a process where oil molecules trap water preventing corrosion. In typical non-hybrid applications, water is removed from the oil by the addition of heat, primarily during acceleration. But, hybrids use electric motors to augment acceleration, reducing engine heat and increasing efficiency. The loss of this heat means the oil has to deal with more water.

“That’s where trap and lock technology shines,” he says. “That’s why we deploy it in our hybrid oil. It’s a different technology for a different application with a different duty cycle,” England explains.

The Valvoline brand is also investing in battery solutions. In 2019, it formed VCA Solutions, which distributes batteries and battery testing equipment. Currently, the company distributes 12-volt lead acid batteries, but down the line, the company is looking to expand its product offerings.

“We will be looking at what we can do with that distribution network later for hybrid battery distribution,” England explains. “We want to do everything we can to increase the efficiency of the entire car parc. If we can be a supplier for hybrid batteries, and we already have the distribution in place, then that’s a natural growth area for us.”

The Heat Transfer Business

While England and his team continue to invest their time in hybrid R&D, they’re not taking their eye off future technologies. England described Valvoline’s role as being in the heat transfer business.

“We do a lot in heat transfer fluids. Think about it: heat is energy, and if we want to be energy efficient, we have to be heat efficient. There’s a lot of things we’re working on there.” he says. “Sometimes, the industry gets so caught up with trying to lower carbon emissions that we miss the point—if we just get more energy efficient, we lower carbon.”
Asking the question, “How do we become more energy efficient?” allows England and his R&D teams to focus on the broader goal at hand, instead of a specific product segment.

“We look at things in a more holistic way,” he says. “That means how we can develop heat transfer fluids and other fluids in the vehicle that will increase efficiency in hybrids, on battery electric vehicles and all across that space.”

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