Shell and AirFlow Truck Company debut Starship – hyper-efficient truck
Shell Lubricants and AirFlow Truck Company have unveiled a new hyper fuel-efficient truck.
Apr 19, 2018 – Shell Lubricants and AirFlow Truck Company have unveiled a new hyper fuel-efficient truck. This next-generation vehicle, named Starship, was designed and built by the companies with the aim of demonstrating what is possible in reducing energy demand in freight transportation. It uses currently available technologies to minimise the amount of energy it takes to transport a load of cargo from one point to another. The truck is currently on public display at the Shell Make the Future California event at the Sonoma Raceway.
“We seek projects such as the Starship initiative to keep Shell at the leading edge of technology development and energy efficiency. Working with AirFlow Truck Company and other suppliers gives Shell Lubricants the opportunity to align with innovative companies to explore what is really possible in fuel efficiency” says Robert Mainwaring, Technology Manager for Innovation, Shell Lubricants. “Transport accounts for more than one quarter of the world’s total energy use and one-fifth of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions: 72 % of which is attributable to road transportation of which trucks make up a significant part. Increasing efficiency and fuel economy in the commercial transport sector could therefore make considerable progress to help reduce emissions.”
With new fuel economy regulations on the horizon across the globe and the need for continuing advances in fuel economy, Shell Lubricants recognises that a holistic approach to making advances is important. However, obtaining significant fuel economy improvements in heavy duty trucks is a challenging process given the size and construction of a tractor and trailer and it is an area which has not had much focus in recent decades.
“Shell firmly believes that collaborative, co-engineering, relationships are essential to the effective reduction in emissions and enhancements in efficiency and have developed such co-engineering relationships with several world leading OEMs,” said Mainwaring. “The relationship with the AirFlow Truck Company and other suppliers to build the Starship Project is part of a collaborative process led by Shell that encourages co-engineering, and has resulted in a truck that will be used to challenge how trucking efficiency is defined. In recent years, we developed a concept car which explored the role that light weighting, streamlining and lubrication played in personal transport. Starship is the Shell Concept Car’s equivalent for freight transport.”
Shell provided technical consultation on engine and drivetrain components, as well as recommendations for lubricant needs for use in the Starship Project truck. The truck is using Shell’s next generation, low viscosity, fully synthetic heavy duty engine oil. The use of fully synthetic base oils, plus advanced additive technology provides protection against wear, deposits and oil breakdown. The lower viscosity delivers superior fuel economy compared to a conventional SAE 15W-40. The lubrication technology shares the same viscosity as Shell Rimula Ultra E+ and is being tested by OEMs around the world.
“As the leader in heavy duty lubricants we have a responsibility to the industry beyond simply our products. That’s why I’m so proud of this collaboration with AirFlow Trucking – which provides a unique opportunity to explore ways to improve fuel economy in transport application. Moving forward, we need creative solutions to the world’s energy challenge such as Starship that will benefit our customers, drivers and the wider world for years to come” says Chris Guerrero, Global Brand Manager, Heavy Duty Lubricants
Ahead of its first public display at the Shell Make the Future event in Sonoma, the companies have continued to fine tune the truck. In May 2018, Shell and AirFlow Truck Company will demonstrate the performance of the Starship on a US coast-to-coast drive: beginning in California and ending in Florida. The truck will carry the maximum viable amount of freight within the allowed gross vehicle weight of 80,000lbs/36,287kgs.
The freight tonne efficiency and fuel economy will be measured along the way and the result will be shared publicly. Freight tonne efficiency is the primary indicator that will be measured on the Starship truck. Shell and Airflow believe this is the most meaningful measurement of efficiency of freight transportation. It is defined as the energy required to move freight from point A to point B. Maximising the amount of load the truck is carrying will decrease the fuel economy, however it will improve freight tonne efficiency and reduce weight specific carbon emissions.
The lessons learned from the Starship Project are globally relevant. The trucking sector worldwide is united in the challenge to “go further with less”; to reduce fuel consumption while maximising load; both in pursuit of lower costs and to meet fuel economy regulations. The truck operates with modern Class 8 engine technology, the demands of which are replicated worldwide; higher temperatures, mechanical and corrosive wear, minimising deposit build-up and the need for extended oil-drain intervals and engine life. A large selection of innovative technologies to aid (fuel) efficiency are commercially available in many markets around the world, we have used a range of these in Starship. These are therefore solutions that truck owners around the globe can readily implement to realise benefits in their own vehicles. The Starship project is one step in the journey to target the world’s global energy challenge; a journey that will benefit the trucking sector directly and the wider environment. To stay up-to-date on the latest Airflow Starship activities, visit www.shell.com/starship.
Starship Truck technology
- Starship is known as a Class 8 Truck in the US: this US specific-classification is determined based on the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The classes range from 1–8 and are classified by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
- The body of the Starship Project tractor is a bespoke 100% aerodynamic design made of carbon fibre. This includes the side skirts, hood, and front end.
- The Starship Project truck is powered by a 6-cylinder engine with 400 horsepower and 1850-foot pounds of torque/2,508 newton metres. The standard engine has been calibrated with the transmission to run at very low speeds and down to 800 rpm.
- Active grille shutters (active based on temperature to maximize aerodynamics and maximise efficiency) open to enable airflow through the radiator and into the engine compartment allowing cooling. When cooling is not needed the shutters are automatically closed, leaving the air to reroute around the vehicle. The result is less aerodynamic drag and reduced fuel consumption. Furthermore, closed shutters in cold-weather reduce warm up time of the engine.
- The truck will, in the future, feature a hybrid electric axle system with an electric motor and axle replacing the rear tractor non-driven axle. This will provide a power boost while climbing grades, where most of the fuel is consumed, the axle transfers the energy out of the truck and feeds it into the battery for acceleration/braking. A downspeed axle configuration using advanced engine controls and automated manual transmission also provides improved efficiency as well as good pulling power
- A 5,000-watt solar array on the trailer roof charges and stores power in a 48- volt battery bank , and is sufficient to power the normal truck loads such as lights, wipers, blower motors, gauges, air conditioning and heating, microwaves, and other electrical components.
Recognising the need for sustainable, cleaner and more energy efficient transportation solutions, Shell is collaborating and co-engineering a number of projects. In 2016, Shell work with Gordon Murray Design and Geo Technology to co-engineer the Shell Concept Car – an ultra-efficient city vehicle that, compared to a typical city car, uses 34% less primary energy over its entire lifetime.
About AirFlow Truck Company
AirFlow Truck Company has built two previous aerodynamic and fuel-efficient Class 8 tractor trailers, the first in 1983 and the most recent in 2012. The most recent rig, dubbed the Bullet Truck, ran coast-to-coast hauling freight at 65,000 pounds (almost 30,000kgs) gross vehicle weight and averaged a record 13.4 mpg or 5.7 km/l.
About Shell Lubricants
Shell Lubricants produces and sells a wide range of lubricants catered to a wide range of customers in 150 countries – from consumers to business customers. We produce lubricants used in sectors such as consumer motoring, heavy duty transport, mining, power generation, general manufacturing, etc. Our brands include Pennzoil, Quaker State, Shell Helix, Shell Advance, Shell Rotella and Shell Rimula, Shell Tellus and Shell Gadus. Our robust supply chain allows us to bring our products to customers globally. This includes five base oil plants, 40 lubricants blending (and packaging) plants and 10 grease production plant across the globe, in 32 countries around the world.
Shell’s strong heritage in technology for lubricants traces back to more than 70 years. We have over 200 scientists and engineers that work in specialised technical centres for lubricants in China, Japan, Germany and the US. We hold over 150 patents for base oils, lubricants and greases and carry out millions of trials every year. Our close relationships with OEMs help us to continue to work on producing high quality lubricants. We also work with top motorsports teams like Scuderia Ferrari, BMW Motorsport, Hyundai Motorsport and Ducati Corse to use racing as a test bed to bring race quality lubricants to customers on the road. We also offer a wide range of technical services to our customers, namely Shell LubeMatch, Shell LubeAdvisor and Shell LubeChat. For more information, logon to www.shell.com.
*Kline & Company, “Global Lubricants Industry November 2016: Market Analysis and Assessment.
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SOURCE: Royal Dutch Shell plc