Shell Lubricants
Shell Starship 2 0 On The Road 6435b4a1c39aa 6439a80d01e29

Shell Starship transitioning to natural gas

April 17, 2023
Shell Lubricants completed the diesel-powered testing of the Shell Starship initiative which conducted cross-country drives in 2018 and 2021 designed to demonstrate the real-world capabilities of currently available Class 8 truck technology.

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, which has been evaluating several decarbonization options for on-highway fleets. The deliveries included a full load of Shell Lubricants, including Shell Rotella, and completed the diesel-powered testing for the initiative.

“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 at Shell. “We again worked with the North American Council for Freight Efficiency to monitor and verify the results.”

See also: Navigating the CARB prebuy for truck procurement: What fleets need to know

Shell Starship 2.0 successfully executed two trips, traveling 3,670 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 lbs. 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 lbs. of product to the brand-new ARDC in Atlanta.

See also: 41st Shell Rotella SuperRigs rolls into Wyoming

During the initial trip from Houston to Fontana, the Shell Starship 2.0 achieved 241.5 ton-miles per gallon for freight ton efficiency–tripling the North American average freight ton efficiency for trucks, which is 75.9 ton-miles per gallon. On average, the vehicle achieved 10.41 MPG on the drive, and its best section fuel economy was 11.2 MPG.

Meanwhile, the company reported that the Shell Starship 2.0 achieved 251 ton-miles per gallon for freight ton efficiency during its trip from Fontana to Atlanta. This represented a roughly three times improvement over the North American average freight ton efficiency for trucks as well. Shell Starship 2.0 achieved 10.92 MPG on the cross-country drive and its best section fuel economy was 12.1 MPG.

Now that the testing for Shell Starship 2.0 has been completed, the company is ready to look forward to version three.

Plans for the next generation of the Shell Starship initiative will be announced on May 2 at ACT Expo in Anaheim, California. Version 3.0 will use technology, advanced lubricants, and will include the new Cummins X15N Natural Gas engine to showcase its results in ton-miles of freight shipped per kg of CO2 emitted.

See also: Cummins reveals X10 fuel-agnostic engine for 2026

“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 (ICE) in an innovative truck design,” said Tom Mueller, Global GM 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.

This article originally appeared on Fleet Maintenance, one of FleetOwner's sister publications.

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