Repsol

Repsol Research, development and innovation (R&D&I) is one of the fundamental tools of the company. Incorporating it's own technologies, which enables Repsol to achieve a competitive advantage, and identifying opportunities that are compatible with our surroundings is part of the Repsol philosophy for the future. At Repsol, technology is developed with a view to creating added value and independent knowledge, through R&D&I and specialized technological support for the production process and Repsol owned products. Repsol's main asset is the knowledge and technological capacity of its over 400 technicians and researchers tasked with developing technology in the short, medium and long term, as well as the continuous improvement of the efficiency and technical and environmental quality of Repsol processes and products. Activities are co-ordinated in close collaboration with Repsol operational units. This planning process also includes contracting R&D&I out to universities and external centres, and developing projects in collaboration with other companies, with the ongoing objective of achieving maximum efficiency and quality. The Technology Centre of Spain is accredited with ISO 14001 for environmental management and the laboratories which require it have earned the ISO 9001 or ISO 17025 quality certifications.

"With its competition lubricants, the race is on for the Repsol Technology Centre, positioning our brand with a product of excellent quality which contributes to the success of our drivers."

Seven specialist technologists work exclusively, every day, on improving the products used Repsol sponsored teams. Product research and development is carried out exclusively for the teams sponsored by Repsol. This strategy is not looking for profit but for image and technological excellence. While spectators watch the fight for the podium at the world's circuits, in the Repsol Technology Centre our technicians fight to win the colors and the podium from their area of knowledge.

The premise of being the best

The guarantee of the best petrols and lubricants in the world is reflected in the logos worn by the car drivers and bike riders Repsol sponsor. “The know-how we are acquiring is like a magic box, put away for when we need it or can use it,” says Jaime Gutiérrez Serna, Consultant at the Repsol Technology Centre.

“We have already won several technological championships this year: in MotoGP, in Argentina with the Dakar, in the trial world cup”, says Eduardo Romero, Director of Refinery, Marketing and LPG of the Repsol Technology Centre. Although we all want to see our drivers with Repsol's colors on the stand being proclaimed champions, the technicians working on the fuel and lubricant in their Honda or Mitsubishi have already triumphed this year, and have their sights set on the products for the 2010 season. For Honda, Montesa, KTM or any of our teams to decide to use Repsol products, our sponsorship is not enough. They demand the best on the market, the best in the world of competition. “The goal has already been reached and right now we are working with 2010 and 2011 engines to develop the best products.”

In the Repsol Technology Centre in Móstoles, the race is on for creativity in innovation, and that means top secret formulas. Javier de Diego, a technician at this centre, says that Repsol has worked with lubricants for competition for more than 15 years. The first to be developed were for Carlos Sainz's Toyota and Subaru engines. At that time the work was done in parallel with and using resources from the commercial lubricant area.

Some years ago, Repsol's sponsorship department decided to focus on competition lubricants. This focus became a project which now has a team of seven specialist technicians who work exclusively every day to improve the products used by the sponsored teams. Vanity and making do have no place in this work, because the premise is that “in competition it's never over until it's over, engines are in constant development, and what you did yesterday will have to be done better today,” says Jaime Gutiérrez. It is this spirit which requires the innovation of high quality, high tech products.

The Technology Centre has six special cells, some of which have restricted access because of the confidentiality of the engine inside, where Repsol fuels and lubricants  are tested and subjected to the most extreme, demanding conditions which can be produced in the different engines and in the championship circuits. This way, they can find out how they behave and how the formulas can be improved. “Our secret is here, in our experience modifying engines, determining the lubricant formula which works best, and understanding and predicting its behaviour,” says Javier de Diego.

It is a never-ending task, based on the premise that everything can be improved. In a few months they can carry out more than 200 tests for a competition lubricant, but first, they must develop their own exclusive high precision testing methods, enabling the best products to be differentiated.

Lubricants, the forgotten hero

For years, motorsports teams focused all their efforts on developing the petrols which would get the best performance from their engines. Today fuels have reached an optimal level, and now lubricants take centre stage. So all the teams are working on competition lubricants which will help to find that extra surge of horsepower in cars and bikes.

What makes a good lubricant? It has to guarantee engine life while taking as little power as possible.

This is a tricky technological balance: protection or power. Its main function is to simply avoid contact between the metal parts of the engine, because that friction would eventually break it. If the product is very viscous protection is high, but it takes the engine more effort to move, and we lose power. The Repsol challenge is to create a lubricant which is minimally viscous, and protects the engine while losing as little power as possible. It's no easy task.