Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies Reduces Vehicle Friction Through its LESS Portfolio of Products


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PLYMOUTH, MI--Oct. 29, 2013: Freudenberg Sealing Technologies CEO Claus Mohlenkamp and Automotive President Torsten Maschke introduced the company's Low Emission Sealing Solutions (LESS) initiative during a press conference in Weinheim, Germany today, indicating that the products will address multiple transportation industry challenges.

During the conference, Mohlenkamp discussed the ability of these unique components to reduce friction in vehicle applications, thereby helping manufacturers improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.

"As an automotive supplier, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is dedicated to developing products that can respond to the global mobility challenges of the future," said Mohlenkamp. "Natural resources are finite and fast-growing metropolises in Asia and South America need specific mobility concepts. Acting responsibly means developing solutions for the post-oil era at full speed – using natural resources but as sparingly and economically as possible. With the idea that 'LESS is more,' Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is giving environmentally-friendly, resource-conserving mobility a major push."

Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies in the Americas has also begun to introduce the LESS initiative. The initiative underscores Freudenberg's commitment to helping its customers develop and engineer superior, environmentally-sensitive transportation solutions for the future. The company's material development capabilities and technology expertise, which have led to breakthroughs like the LESS products, are also the foundation upon which Freudenberg builds strong customer relationships.

"We will only reach sustained growth if we concentrate on 'less,'" Maschke told reporters attending the conference. "We have aligned our innovation strategy with those of our customers to support demanding product development objectives that call for higher power and performance standards and lower emissions and higher fuel economy."

Over the past two decades, auto manufacturers have faced engineering and environmental challenges including global requirements to lower tailpipe emissions and increase fuel economy standards, use lightweight materials, introduce start-stop technology and pursue vehicle electrification. LESS products offer tremendous potential in addressing these challenges. For example:

The company's gas-lubricated mechanical face seal, Levitex™, under development and due for introduction in 2017, is nearly friction-free. A cushion of air is created between the slide ring and a counter ring, leading to a 90 percent reduction in friction compared to a conventional crankshaft seal. This cuts CO2 emissions during driving between 0.5 g and 1.0 g of CO2 per kilometer. A 1.0 g reduction in CO2 emissions is the equivalent of approximately 0.2 mpg savings in gas for a vehicle rated at a 33 mpg. The seal also facilitates longer operation by reducing wear. The company's Energy Saving Seal (ESS™), for engine crankshafts and camshafts as well as transmissions, combines the robust sealing interface of a conventional polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) collar with the friction-reducing properties of an elastomer seal. Friction is reduced by 40 percent compared with a conventional PTFE lip. The CASCO™ cassette-type seal up to 70 percent greater energy savings compared with conventional lip designs used in other engine seals. The CASCO cassette-type seal generates a much lower friction due to the advanced design of its "axial" sealing lip. CASCO seals performed and successfully passed several bench tests reaching over 1 million miles. Customer field tests confirmed this performance. The company can offer a multi-pole encoder that can be combined with a radial shaft seal, creating one component. The elastomer layer, which can be magnetized and encoded with north and south poles, provides the engine control module with precise information on the rotational speed and the position of the crankshaft – an important criterion for start-stop systems. This makes it possible to minimize installation space, weight and process costs.

The company is also working on many innovations in the area of lightweight construction. For example, hydraulic accumulators are saving energy and weight in transmissions. Automatic start-stop systems require high volume flow for short periods. A hydraulic accumulator with a lightweight design covers peak pressure in the short term. This means the hydraulic system can be designed solely for average energy needs, and the drive train can be made smaller and lighter.

Freudenberg has been able to build its expertise in the area of lightweight construction through its joint venture with the Schneegans Group. This partnership has allowed the company to leverage Schneegans' expertise in two- or multi-component injection molding. Examples of this technology include the 3D-form full-plastic tubes for oil dip sticks and oil filler necks. These components allow the tight space in the engine compartment to be optimally used. In the case of 2K plastic pump housings, seals can be injected directly for oil and water circuits for added functional security. The same is true for housings with seals integrated into their covers with a 2K design; they absorb dynamic stresses and can provide tolerance compensation even during significant temperature swings.

Freudenberg-NOK is also making a contribution to innovative solutions in electric mobility via its radial shaft seal or Simmerring® seal technology. The input shaft in an electrically powered vehicle's axle drive can become electrically charged, potentially damaging the transmission. A Simmerring with an electrically conductive PTFE-graphite nonwoven material grounds the electrical charge from the shaft to the housing, effectively eliminating the threat of damage.

The automotive industry is a key business field for Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, accounting for nearly 50 percent of revenue, with total revenue at 1.7 billion euros worldwide. The replacement parts business is also important for the company. The company is responding geographically to the auto industry's shift from mature to new growth regions. For many years, Freudenberg's partnership with NOK Corp. has given it a strong position in China and Asia. The company is currently strengthening its presence in Brazil and Turkey.

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