A typical commercial truck gets about six miles per gallon. Technology and Innovation Manager, Shell Lubricants Bob Mainwairing is responsible for Starship, a concept truck that emulates the same concept used on the car that achieved 89 mpg by using lightweight materials, streamlining and lubrication that uses less energy.
Almost everything you have in your house was in a truck at some point. Shell’s website says that “Transport accounts for more than one-quarter of the world’s total energy use and one-fifth of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.”
Part of Shell’s SKy scenario, fifty years of how they will reach the Paris Accord agreement, includes answers on how to reduce emissions in the transport sector while increasing fuel efficiency.
Mainwairing went through some of the highlights used to make the Starship truck the most fuel-efficient with the least amount of emissions possible, including Computational fluid dynamics, pneumatically actuated doors, low side skirts and boattails at the back of the truck.
The Cab of the starship is a bespoke hyper-aerodynamic design, fabricated of 100% carbon fiber. Active grille shutters that are based on temperature to maximize aerodynamics and maximize efficiency have been installed. When open, the shutters enable air to flow through the radiator and into the engine compartment, allowing cooling. When cooling is not needed, the shutters automatically close, and the air reroutes around the vehicle. The result is less aerodynamic drag and reduced fuel consumption. An added benefit of active shutters is the reduced cold-weather engine warm-up time.
The Boattail is an aerodynamic tail that makes the truck streamlined and reduces drag. Elongated side panels maintain airflow with the long side skirts that minimize rear end drag. An automatic tire inflation system ensures consistent tire pressure for optimal fuel economy. A down speed axle configuration using advanced engine controls and automated manual transmission provides improved efficiency as well as good pulling power.
5,000-watt solar array on the trailer roof charges the main 48-volt battery bank on the tractor. The battery bank powers the truck-cab air conditioning. When down-converted to 12 volts by a cab mounted with a DC-to-DC converter, it will power the regular truckloads, such as lights, wipers, blower motors, gauges, and other electrical components.
A hybrid electric axle system can be installed with an electric motor and axle replacing the rear tractor non-driven axle. This extra power provides a power boost while climbing grades, where the most fuel is consumed per kilometer. The hybrid axle in the truck uses regenerative braking to charge the battery pack. This is done by capturing energy while decelerating or while descending a grade.
Mainwairing is working on this because “The trucking sector worldwide is united in the challenge to “go further with less”; to reduce fuel consumption while maximizing load; both in pursuit of lower costs and to meet fuel economy regulations.” The truck operates with advanced Class 8 engine technology; higher temperatures, mechanical and corrosive wear. This minimizes deposit build-up and allows for extended oil-change intervals and increases engine life.
Mainwairing said that collaboration was the key, “A large selection of innovative technologies that increased fuel efficiency are commercially available in many markets around the world. Shell has had different companies send us their technologies, and we have used many of these in Starship. These are solutions that truck owners around the globe can readily implement to realize benefits in their own vehicles.”
The truck is using Shell’s next generation, low viscosity, fully synthetic heavy-duty engine oil. Shell found that the use of fully synthetic base oils, plus advanced additive technology protects 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 OEMs around the world are testing Rimula Ultra E+.
Starship will also use full synthetic Shell Lubricants, including Spirax S6 GXME 75W-80 transmission oil, Spirax S5 ADE 75W-85 differential oil, and Spirax S6 GME 40 wheel hub oil.