Making the welcome address at the inaugural Shell Lubricants Technology Lecture, held in partnership with Imperial College London and attended by several leading automotive industry and engineering experts, Dr. Selda Gunsel, Vice President of Shell Global Commercial Technology, called for greater collaboration between equipment manufacturers, engineers and lubricant manufacturers to exploit the full fuel economy potential of engine oils and lubricants.

While acknowledging that the biggest gains in efficiency, in the long term, would most likely come from new engine design and alternative fuels, Dr. Gunsel noted the critical contribution she believes lubricant technology plays in delivering against the immediate need to reduce fuel consumption in “every vehicle on the road today without the need to purchase a new vehicle.” She added: “The advantage of lubricant technology is that it can successfully improve fuel efficiency and thereby help reduce tailgate emissions today, rather than waiting for a radical technological development in years to come.”

Dr. Gunsel also called for a more cohesive ‘co-engineering’ approach between the development of new vehicle technologies and engines and of new grade fuels and lubricants to create the maximum benefit. This cohesive approach, based on technical partnerships between engineering firms and lubricant developers, has a vital role to play in establishing “lubricants as a valuable design component, engineered with precision and blended with skill”, said Dr. Gunsel.

This co-engineering approach was reinforced by renowned Formula 1 and McLaren designer Professor Gordon Murray, who delivered the guest lecture at the event. Collaboration between Gordon Murray Design (GMD) and Shell Lubricants last year led to the development of an innovative concept engine lubricant in GMD’s T.25 city car capable of achieving a 6.5 per cent [1] improvement in fuel efficiency - a step change compared to the improvements of around 2.5 per cent achieved in typical fuel economy lubricant development programmes.

Professor Gordon Murray said: “In terms of fuel economy gains, it feels like we have picked most of the low hanging fruit as far as engine design is concerned. Now it’s time to focus on the small details that can make a big difference – and that includes lubricants. The work that Shell is doing in advanced lubricant engineering plays a really important role in enabling the kind of innovative and challenging design concepts we are developing at GMD to tackle emissions and fuel consumption.”

Hugh Spikes, Head of the Tribology Group at Imperial College London, commented: “The importance of understanding the science of lubricants, and the gains in efficiency available, is something that drives a large amount of the research undertaken here at Imperial’s Tribology Group. The discussion at the Shell Lubricants Technology Lecture was insightful and entertaining, bringing a really diverse group of people who share an interest in working closely together to achieve progress in lubricant science.”

The Shell Lubricants Technology Lecture also featured guest speakers and panelists from Scuderia Ferrari, Infineum, Schaeffler Technologies and New Scientist.

Back row from the left: Professor Gordon Murray of Gordon Murray Design, Robert Plank, VP Corporate Engineering of Schaeffler Technologies, Mark Struglinski, VP Technology of Infineum, Jeremy Webb, Editor in Chief of New Scientist, Dave Salters, Head of Engine Development of Scuderia Ferrari.

Front from the left: Selda Gunsel, VP Global Commercial Technology of Shell and Professor Hugh Spikes, Professor of Lubrication at Imperial College London.


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Notes to Editors:

[1] The figure of 6.5 percent is derived from testing on an urban cycle (the urban cycle is designed to mimic the conditions of city driving). Combined cycle (the combined cycle is designed to mimic both urban and motorway driving) testing yielded a 4.6 percent benefit. The testing undertaken compares the concept lubricant to a 10W-30 oil which is a widely used viscosity in European markets.

Quotes from the Dr. Selda Gunsel speech:

  • “Lubricants are in contact with almost all parts of the engine and driveline playing an important role in the function of a vehicle. They create as well as remove friction from an engine hence contributing directly to fuel consumption.”
  • “Shell research shows that fuel economy can be improved by using the most suitable quality lubricant for an engine, and that even higher savings can be achieved when the lubricants provider and the automotive original equipment manufacturer (OEM) work together to develop bespoke products for a particular vehicle.”
  • “The lower the viscosity of the lubricant, the less fuel an engine needs to use to overcome its resistance. The challenge is to determine the lowest viscosity lubricant which still provides the right level of engine protection and durability.”
  • “The lubricant can act as an enabling technology on its own – allowing key components – like turbo chargers – to work without constraint when previously their function might be impaired. The same is true of the modern transmission systems which transmit the power of the engine to the wheels.”
  • “The lubricant should be considered as another design parameter and not only as an afterthought once the design has been fixed.”

About Shell Lubricants

The term “Shell Lubricants” collectively refers to Shell Group companies engaged in the lubricants business. Shell sells a wide variety of lubricants to meet customer needs across a range of applications. These include consumer motoring, heavy-duty transport, mining, power generation and general engineering. Shell’s portfolio of lubricant brands includes Pennzoil, Quaker State, Shell Helix, Shell Rotella, Shell Tellus and Shell Rimula. We are active across the full lubricant supply chain. We manufacture base oils in eight plants, blend base oils with additives to make lubricants in over 50 plants, distribute, market and sell lubricants in over 100 countries.

We also provide technical and business support to customers. We offer lubricant-related services in addition to our product range. These include: Shell LubeMatch –the market leading product on-line recommendation tool, Shell LubeAdvisor - helps customers to select the right lubricant through highly trained Shell technical staff as well as online tools, and Shell LubeAnalyst - an early warning system that enables customers to monitor the condition of their equipment and lubricant, helping to save money on maintenance and avoid potential lost business through equipment failure.

Shell’s world-class technology works to deliver value to our customers. Innovation, product application and technical collaboration are at the heart of Shell lubricants. We have leading lubricants research centres in Germany, Japan (in a joint venture with Showa Shell), the UK and the USA. We invest significantly in technology and work closely with our customers to develop innovative lubricants. We have a patent portfolio with 150 + patent series for lubricants, base oils and greases; more than 200 scientists and lubricants engineers dedicated to lubricants research and development.

Customer benefits include lower maintenance costs, longer equipment life and reduced energy consumption. One of the ways we push the boundaries of lubricant technology is by working closely with top motor racing teams such as Scuderia Ferrari. These technical partnerships enable us to expand our knowledge of lubrication science and transfer cutting-edge technology from the racetrack to our commercial products.

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