Exclusive Interview with Advisory Board Member: George Zhang, Valvoline

Q1) What is your role at Valvoline?

I am currently vice president of International R&D for Valvoline Global Operations, focusing on R&D, formulation development, and technical services for the international part of our operations, and also leading the global R&D strategy and innovation to future proof our business.


Q2) In 24 years, your journey has taken you from staff scientist to heading up Valvoline’s international R&D. How much has the lubricant industry changed from those early days to now?

The lubricant industry has changed dramatically over the past 24 years. The specifications have been upgraded multiple times, for API, ILSAC, ACEA and JASO. The quality and performance of the lubricants have elevated based on overall improvements of base oil quality and innovations in additive components and packages. The chemists and engineers of our industry have made significant stride in emission control, fuel economy improvement and durability enhancement, enabling modern engines and machineries to run more efficiently and environmentally friendly.


Q3) Valvoline are known as a leader in automotive lubricants, how does the company keep up with the technological developments within the auto sector, particularly with the requirements as a result of electrification?

We are proud to be known as a leader in automotive lubricants, especially in the area of tribology and surface chemistry. Moreover, we are also a leader in heat transfer fluid and thermal management. We have been selling coolants under the “Zerex” brand for around 3 decades. In responding to electrification in the auto sector, we are focusing on heat transfer fluids, drive system fluids (DSF), greases and other auxiliary fluids. For example, we have developed DSF and grease technologies with proven gains on system-wide efficiencies. Furthermore, sustainability is another focus area which can enable the vehicle makers to further reduce the carbon footprint through using low and zero carbon energy sources.


Q4) What are you hoping to see at Lubricant Expo North America?

I am hoping to see new and innovative ideas in this century old industry, especially any out-of-the-box type innovations.  I am especially interested in new component chemistry and supply chain innovations.


Q5) How do you think Lubricant Expo North America can help Valvoline and it’s customers?

It is a great opportunity for Valvoline to showcase its brand power and R&D prowess, as North America is the stronghold of this 158-year-old lubricant brand (by the time of the expo). I hope we can speak and exchange ideas with participants and collect the voice of customers (VOC), so we can develop new and better products catering to the needs of our customers.