Investigation into the benefits of reduced oil flows in internal combustion engines

R D Burke, C J Brace, Roland Stark, Ian Pegg

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The engine lubrication system is a vital element for engine health but causes a parasitic load on the engine which increases the fuel consumption: this load can be reduced by matching the oil flow to lubricating requirements using a variable displacement oil pump. In a first stage, two variable displacement oil pumps were installed on a 2.4-L diesel engine; experiments over the New European Drive cycle showed reductions in fuel consumption of up to 3.4% and up to 5.8% over the urban phase of the cycle. A variable displacement oil pump was subsequently installed on an instrumented engine capturing over 100 metal and fluid temperatures within the engine structure. This showed that reducing oil flows resulted in lower oil temperature by up to 4 C during cold-start New European Drive cycle but hotter cylinder liner temperatures by up to 6 C. The higher cylinder wall temperatures caused an increase of 3% in oxides of nitrogen
emissions but a reduction of 3%–5% in carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions. Finally, an energy flow analysis showed that the variable displacement oil pump can reduce oil pump energy consumption by 160 kJ (32%) but that this
led to a 400-kJ reduction in friction and accessory work. These findings highlight the need for a system-level rather than a component-level approach to engine lubrication design to capture key thermal interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-517
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Engine Research
Issue number4
Early online date28 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • Variable displacement oil pump
  • thermal management
  • parasitic losses
  • system analysis
  • diesel engine
  • lubrication
  • fuel economy


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