Story of Transmission Oil Development

Story About the Development of an Environmentally-friendly Drive Train Lubricant

Developing Transmission Oil for New Vehicles Through Considerations of Multifaceted and Complex Trade-offs

Lubricant not created to suit the hardware but hardware created to suit the lubricant. Go Tatsumi dreams of this potential in the development of lubricants. His dream demonstrates a stance with both a pure and enthusiastic approach as well as unfettered thought in his research as the Delphinium symbolizes "purity" in the language of flowers.


The needs for fuel efficiency in automobiles has reached an even higher level as environmental awareness has grown in recent years. JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy provides a broad line-up of products as environmentally-friendly products that further improve the various aspects of environmental performance over conventional products from production to delivery, use, and disposal. The company is focused on the development of products around the keywords of "environmental friendliness" even for lubricants used in automotive transmissions. Go Tatsumi is involved in this research to bring products to the world that both satisfy performance over the gamut of needs in transmission oil while also dynamically contributing to the global environment.

What kind of research are you conducting?

I am sure the first thing that comes to mind when you think about automotive lubricants is engine oil. However, transmission oil is also another necessary lubricant. Mechanisms such as AT, CVT, hybrid, and DCT are used in transmissions. Specialized lubricant needs to be developed for each type of mechanism. In addition, there are products sold under the JX brand and products developed through partnerships with automotive manufacturers. I am primarily in charge of the former type of products. The environmentally-friendly lubricant that was developed through this research is used as transmission oil for new vehicles which will be released shortly in the North American market.

What kind of research are you conducting specifically?

Currently, I am researching ways to reduce the viscous resistance of lubricants. This means the trend is to lower viscosity. Lubricant with a high viscosity better prevents an absence of oil film even with large power applied. However, in terms of ensuring functionality, energy is lost due to a high resistance when agitated. The agitation resistance can be reduced by lowering the viscosity and greater vehicle fuel efficiency can be achieved by limiting the energy loss. However, additional innovations to sustain higher protective features of components are necessary because of the thinner oil film. These types of trade-offs intertwine both multifaceted and complex elements of transmission oil that demand a wide range of functionality from lubrication and protection to friction control, power transmission, oil pressure, and cooling.
Transmission oil is made up of a base oil and performance additives. Performance additives are used in complex combinations according to the necessary functionality. However, a single performance additive is often used in cases that involve several types of functionality, and this makes the trade-offs extremely complicated. We can get this performance, but we have to take that performance away. This give-and-take is constantly repeated. Finding a combination to satisfy all of the functionality required by transmission oil is so difficult it could be called a "battle". Therefore, we are always aware of trying to further the weapons (additives) we have at hand to use more easily from our previous experience. This places capabilities into our research to conquer trade-offs through the combination of these additives.

Please tell us about your future research.

The pattern to develop new lubricants is first developing new lubricants suitable to the vehicles of today. Next, the hardware is upgraded and the lubricant is created according to that hardware. Generally, most development is undertaken in one of these two ways. However, if we go a step further, I think there are concepts to complete the lubricant first before creating hardware to accommodate that lubricant. I want to develop lubricant with the appeal and potential to encourage automotive manufacturers to design hardware to bring out the full performance of the lubricant. To put this another way, a lubricant that changes automotive design conventions. This may be impossible (laughing), but my dream is to develop a lubricant able to flip the approach of creating lubricants supporting hardware on its head.


Central Technical Research Laboratory

Go Tatsumi