Freudenberg-NOK Supplies Custom Crankshaft Seals to SAE International Supermileage® Competition Engineering Teams

Company's low friction, Energy Saving Seals reduce friction by 57 percent

PLYMOUTH, Mich. – Last year, a team of engineering students from Pennsylvania State University – Behrend built a single-passenger car that squeezed 1,290 miles out of a single gallon of fuel.

Never mind that the car lacked basic amenities and topped out under 25 mph.  The vehicle's design and performance were good enough to snag first place in SAE International's Supermileage® Competition, a program that encourages students to push the boundaries of fuel technology by using a one-cylinder engine. That got Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies' engineers thinking.

Student efforts to pull dramatic fuel economy out of a tiny powertrain are not unlike the challenges facing most vehicle manufacturers today. So when the company – already a Gold Sponsor of the SAE event – looked for ways to further support the competition, they focused on the company's powerful Energy Saving Seals (ESS™).

The result: Freudenberg-NOK announced today it will supply all 29 2014 Supermileage college race teams a set of custom engineered ESS seals that will reduce friction in the engine crankshaft by a remarkable 57 percent.

The seals have been specifically developed by the company to work in the one-cylinder engines used in the Supermileage competition and may eventually become part of the company's Low Emission Sealing Solution (LESS) portfolio of products. For now, these tiny replacement parts are guaranteed to boost the Supermileage engine efficiency and will help the competing college teams narrow the gap between existing and future vehicle innovations, said Dr. Luis Lorenzo, senior vice president, Technology and Innovation, Freudenberg-NOK.

"This is the second year that Freudenberg-NOK has elected to support college teams entering SAE International's Supermileage Competition," Lorenzo said, "but this year we opted to broaden our support by offering every team access to some of the best fuel-saving, vehicle technology available today."

"We see terrific synergies between this program and the innovations we are developing for our customers in the area of friction reduction and fuel economy," Lorenzo continued. "Freudenberg-NOK supports programs that help develop new engineering talent and product innovations so the Supermileage competition is a natural fit and we are happy to support the students and teams."

The SAE International Supermileage competition requires teams of students to produce a single driver, internal combustion engine, fuel efficient vehicle that can be driven six laps around a specified race course. Teams are awarded points based on a combination of the miles per gallon they achieve and their vehicle design. Fuel tanks are weighed before and after the track run to see how much fuel is consumed, but teams are allowed as many attempts as they would like, making tweaks to their vehicles after each run.

The ESS replacement seals being supplied to the teams by Freudenberg-NOK were engineered to fit the small crankshaft in the one-cylinder engines. Testing the seals presented Freudenberg-NOK with the additional challenge of accurately measuring torque in such a small seal.

But after prototypes were produced and special machine tools were designed and built to test the ESS seals, they showed a distinct advantage over the original seals used in the engines.

The custom seals developed for Supermileage reduce friction losses from 14 watts per seal with the OEM parts to 6 watts, a 57 percent improvement. Because there are two of these seals on the engine, there is an overall enhancement of 16 watts – a significant improvement that teams can realize by replacing the original seals with Freudenberg-NOK's ESS crankshaft seals.

"We're constantly pursuing technologies that increase efficiency, so a competition in which we can help students squeeze every mile per gallon possible out of their vehicle is exciting," said Rory Pawl, director, Future Technology for Freudenberg-NOK. "We can also use the development of these seals as a potential prototype for future low-torque range products."

Mike Rowe, strategic product development manager, Freudenberg-NOK, said the company will supply the teams with the seals and technical support needed to install them.

"This challenge offers us a chance to get involved with new engineering students and new ideas," Rowe said. "This year it may also provide us with a real-world setting in which to test a new line of ESS products. That's a win for the students, a win for SAE International and a win for our company too."

SAE International's Supermileage Competition will take place June 5 and 6 at Eaton's proving grounds in Marshall, Mich. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Cheryl Eberwein, Director, Media Relations

Office: +1 734 354 7373


About Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies

Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is the Americas joint venture between Freudenberg and Co. in Germany and NOK Corp. in Japan. Freudenberg-NOK is a leading producer of advanced sealing technologies for a variety of markets including: aerospace; agriculture;  appliance; automotive; construction; diesel engine; energy; food and beverage; heavy industry; and pharmaceutical. Founded in 1989 under the legal name Freudenberg-NOK General Partnership, Freudenberg-NOK is headquartered in Plymouth, Mich. and operates more than 20 facilities across the Americas. For additional information, please visit

More from Test & Measurement

All Topics

COVID-19 Response Suppliers COVID-19 Response:
Can Your Company Help Provide Critical Supplies?

We are using the power of our platform to aid in the mass shortage of critical supplies. If your company can help provide supplies, capabilities, or materials for products such as N-95 Masks and Tyvek SuitsPlease let us know.

COVID-19 Response Suppliers