“We seek projects such as the Starship initiative to keep Shell at the leading edge of technology development and energy efficiency,” says Bob Mainwaring, technology manager for innovation, Shell Lubricants. “The transportation industry is constantly changing, and our goal is to be at the forefront of innovation by collaborating with companies like AirFlow and others to develop creative solutions that provide benefits for years to come.”
The body of the Starship Project tractor is a custom aerodynamic design made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). This includes the side skirts, hood, and front end. A custom, Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved wrap-around windshield was designed specifically for the truck. The trailer includes energy efficient features such as full side skirts to reduce drag and a 5,000W solar array on top of the trailer to power interior accessories and reduce the energy load.
Powered by a 2017 Cummins X15 Efficiency 6-cylinder engine with 400hp and 1,850 lb-ft of torque, the standard engine has been calibrated with the transmission to run at very low speeds, down to 800rpm.
Shell provided technical consultation on engine and drivetrain components, as well as recommendations for lubricant needs for use in the Starship Project truck. The engine will run on Shell Rotella T6 Ultra 5W-30, which is a low viscosity API FA-4 engine oil that has been formulated to provide better fuel economy, improved high and low temperature performance and meets the requirements for many low emissions engines.
The Starship Project will undertake a cross-country run in May that will begin in California and end in Florida carrying a real load of cargo: clean reef material destined for a new reef installation off the coast of Florida later this summer. AirFlow and Shell will seek to reduce the energy usage associated with the transportation of goods through improved fuel-economy for a Class 8 truck and the measurement of freight ton efficiency.
AirFlow Truck has built two previous aerodynamic and fuel-efficient Class 8 tractor trailers, the first in 1983 and the most recent in 2012. The most recent rig, dubbed the Bullet Truck, ran coast-to-coast hauling freight at 65,000 lb gross vehicle weight and averaged a record 13.4mpg.