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Shell Lubricants, AirFlow Truck to develop ‘hyper-fuel milage’ tractor

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Shell Lubricants is partnering with AirFlow Truck Co. owner and designer, Bob Sliwa, to develop a new hyper-fuel mileage Class 8 tractor trailer, announced the two companies Thursday evening, March 26, as part of MATS. This next-generation concept truck, nicknamed the StarShip, will feature a completely new design with the aim of breaking current fuel efficiency records for Class 8 trucks. Shell and AirFlow expect the truck to make its debut in 2017.

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“This is an exciting project for Shell that allows us to remain at the leading edge of technology development, energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Selda Gunsel, vice-president of technology for Shell Global Solutions. “The transportation industry is dynamic and we intend to stay at the forefront of innovation—collaborating with companies like AirFlow to develop creative solutions that will benefit the industry for years to come.”

The pursuit of significant fuel economy gains for Class 8 trucks and trailers is a challenging process given the size and traditional construction of a tractor and trailer. With new fuel economy regulations on the horizon and the need for continuing advances in fuel economy, Shell Lubricants recognizes that a holistic approach to making fuel economy gains is important. This includes advances in engine and drive train technology, the use of low viscosity synthetic lubricants, aerodynamic designs, efficient driving methods and more.

“During our continuous on-highway testing of Shell Rotella engine oils and other lubricants, we always seek to understand how efficiencies can be gained across the whole truck,” said Chris Guerrero, global brand manager for Shell Rotella. “Aerodynamics plays a big role in achieving higher fuel economy and we look forward to working with Bob Sliwa and AirFlow Truck Co. on the evolution of an all-new hyper fuel mileage tractor and trailer”

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Initial designs call for the StarShip tractor and trailer to join together into a single integrated unit. This will solve the problem of having a gap between the tractor and trailer, which is a big source of aerodynamic drag and loss of efficiency, AirFlow’s Sliwa said. The tractor and trailer will also feature newly designed side skirts, hood, front end and custom interior. The tractor to trailer Active Aerodynamics gap sealer and the trailer skirts will all retract below 35 MPH or when coming up on obstructions such as a railroad crossing.

The Shell Lubricants team will provide technical consultation on engine and drivetrain components and recommendations for lubricant needs for use in the StarShip truck. As the industry prepares for the next generation of diesel engine oils, currently designated as PC-11, the ability to work with AirFlow Truck Co. gives Shell Lubricants the opportunity to align with an innovator in truck design and allows it to explore the limits of fuel efficiency.

Learn more about the project at www.rotella.com.

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