May 20, 2011 - Berlin. A more ambitious and holistic approach to engineering is needed to meet the sustainable transport challenge. With two-thirds of vehicles predicted to still use current engine technologies and conventional liquid fuels in 2050, a collaborative approach to engine design will be critical to maximise fuel efficiency and reduce associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over the next 40 years. This was the message from Shell executives to delegates today at Michelin Challenge Bibendum, a sustainable mobility forum, in Berlin.
While acknowledging extensive industry efforts to address the sustainable transport challenge, Tan Chong Meng, Executive Vice President of Shell’s Global Commercial business, said the progress needed to help deliver necessary efficiency gains would only happen through long-term co-engineering partnerships, where fuels, lubricants and vehicles are developed in collaboration.
“We believe that one of the best and fastest way to improve fuel economy and therefore lower CO2 emissions from conventional fuels is [for Shell] to work more closely with OEMs [original equipment manufacturers]. We need a more cohesive approach between the development of new vehicle technologies and engines and the development of new grade fuels and lubricants. That closer collaboration will, we believe, introduce innovation, sustain performance and make gains in driveability,” he said.
Co-presenting, Selda Gunsel, Vice President of Shell Global Commercial Technology, added that alongside collaboration, more radical thinking would be essential also. Using lubricants as an example, she said this would include developing formulations that sit outside the current industry specifications, aspects of which may be outdated and therefore rule out more fuel-efficient technologies.
“The demand for CO2 emission reductions gives us a very strong incentive to look again at the traditional approach. By starting from first principles, the industry will be able to develop specifications appropriate for vehicles focused on achieving improvements in fuel economy,” she said.
The benefits of a more collaborative approach were illustrated in Shell’s technical partnership with Gordon Murray Design (GMD), a British-based engineering company. GMD’s innovative, low-carbon, T.25 city vehicle was used as a test bed by research teams from both companies to develop new oil formulations. By working beyond current industry specifications, the team developed a concept engine lubricant which increased the overall fuel efficiency of the vehicle by up to 6.5% – around three times the saving that can be made by modern lubricant formulations currently on the market.
As part of Shell’s commitment to increasing fuel efficiency and its belief in a collaborative approach, Selda also announced plans to extend the testing of ultra low viscosity concept oils over a longer time period. This testing will be carried out either with OEMs or engineering consultancy partners to provide insights into potential engine wear or oil degradation concerns and how engine design and lubricants formulation can be co-engineered to help provide a solution.
Chong Meng concluded: “It is clear that no one company, not one part of the industry will succeed by acting alone. Our industry has a great track record of innovation, partnership and application to build on. And if we can work together even more closely in the future, then I am really optimistic that we can ensure our customers have cleaner, more efficient engines, fuels and lubricants in the decades ahead.”
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