Final run for diesel Shell Starship truck

Upcoming Shell Starship 3.0 to employ natural gas engine

Shell Starship Shell Starship 2.0 on the road. (Photo: Shell Lubricants)

In anticipation of the next phase of development for the Shell Starship initiative, Shell Starship 2.0 completed a final run late in 2022. As part of the Shell Lubricants Supply Chain fleet, the special truck has been evaluating several decarbonization options for on-highway fleets. The deliveries included a full load Shell products, including Shell Rotella.

“This drive gave us further insight into the impact of efficiency testing with different payloads and miles driven, demonstrating tangible benefits for the freight transport industry as it seeks to lower emissions,” said Dr. Selda Gunsel, president of Shell Global Solutions and VP Fuels and Lubricants Technology, Shell. “We again worked with the North American Council for Freight Efficiency to monitor and verify the results.”

This completed the diesel-powered testing of the Shell Starship initiative which conducted cross-country drives designed to demonstrate the real-world capabilities of currently available Class 8 truck technology.

The path to a lower carbon energy future will require a range of solutions. Since 2018, the ambition of the Shell Starship initiative has been to demonstrate how a Class 8 truck’s energy usage can be reduced by harnessing currently available energy-efficient technologies and lubricants, as the transportation industry accelerates toward a lower carbon future.

Shell Starship 2.0 successfully executed two trips traveling 3670 miles on existing routes between the Shell Houston Regional Distribution Center (HRDC) to the Fontana Regional Distribution Center (FRDC) in California and from Fontana to the Atlanta Regional Distribution Center (ARDC). These are routes that are normally driven by a standard Class 8 diesel truck and provided additional data measuring freight ton efficiency and fuel economy.

The first of these runs, loaded with approximately 46,380 lb. of Shell Rotella engine oil, drove from Houston to Fontana where it was unloaded at FRDC. For the second leg of the drive, Shell Starship 2.0 was again fully loaded, carrying approximately 45,988 lb. of product to the brand new ARDC in Atlanta.

The Shell Starship 2.0 drives achieved the following results:

Houston to Fontana

Shell Starship 2.0 achieved 241.5 ton-miles per gallon for freight ton efficiency – which Shell said is a 3.1 times improvement over the North American average freight ton efficiency for trucks which is 75.9 ton-miles per gallon. Its best section fuel economy was 11.2 mpg.

Fontana to Atlanta

Shell Starship 2.0 achieved 251 ton-miles per gallon for freight ton efficiency – reportedly a 3.3 times improvement over the North American average freight ton efficiency for trucks. Shell Starship 2.0 achieved 10.92 mpg on the cross-country drive from Fontana to Atlanta. Its best section fuel economy was 12.1 MPG.

Shell Starship 3.0

Plans for the next generation of the Shell Starship initiative will be announced on May 2 at ACT Expo in Anaheim, Calif. The company said Version 3.0 will use the most modern technology and advanced lubricants as Shell again seeks to show what is possible for efficient Class 8 trucks now and in the future. This includes the new Cummins X15N natural gas engine and will look to showcase results in ton miles of freight shipped per kg of CO2 emitted.

“Shell Global Lubricants is pleased to move forward with the development of Shell Starship 3.0 which will feature the Cummins 15L natural gas internal combustion engine, in an innovative truck design,” said Tom Mueller, global general manager Commercial Road Transport Lubricants. “The updated Starship will integrate a best-in-class aerodynamic cab, trailer and tires, with an efficient powertrain and driveline, powered by Shell Renewable Natural Gas and Shell Rotella low-friction lubricants.”

“Cummins is excited to help advance the innovative work of the Shell Starship 3.0 project by integrating the new X15N big bore natural gas engine,” said Puneet Jhawar, general manager, Cummins Global Spark Ignited Business. “The growth of the renewable natural gas supply and addition of public CNG refueling locations is helping long-haul fleets recognize the environmental, economic and operational benefits natural gas engines can deliver, with minimal disruption to their business model.”

Additional details about Shell Starship 3.0 will be provided at ACT Expo including information about technology and innovation updates and anticipated plans for testing later this year.

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