Fuel-efficient prototype ‘StarShip’ hits the road in May

March 6, 2018

Land Line Staff


Shell Lubricants and AirFlow Truck Co. have designed and built a fuel-efficient Class 8 truck that they call the “StarShip Project,” and they plan to give it a road test in May.

The StarShip Project uses available technology to minimize the energy required to transport cargo. The holistic approach includes aerodynamic design, advanced engine and drive train technology, low viscosity synthetic lubricants, efficient driving methods and other means.

With the StarShip Project, AirFlow and Shell say they aim to reduce the energy used in transporting goods through improved fuel economy for a Class 8 truck and measure it in freight ton efficiency.

The body of the StarShip Project tractor, including the side skirts, hood and front end, is made of carbon fiber. A wrap-around windshield was designed for the truck.

The trailer has energy efficient features such as full side skirts to reduce drag and a 5,000-watt solar array on top of the trailer to power interior accessories and reduce the energy load.

The StarShip Project truck is powered by a 2017 Cummins X15 Efficiency six-cylinder engine with 400 horsepower and 1850-foot pounds of torque. The standard engine has been calibrated with the transmission to run at very low speeds and down to 800 rpm.

Shell was consulted on technical aspects of the engine and drivetrain components in addition to lubricant needs for use in the Starship Project truck. The engine will run on Shell Rotella T6 Ultra 5W-30, a low viscosity API FA-4 engine oil formulated to provide better fuel economy and improved high and low temperature performance.

The truck uses several full synthetic Shell Lubricants products, including Spirax S6 GXME 75W-80 transmission oil, Spirax S5 ADE 75W-80 differential oil and Spirax S6 GME 40 wheel hub oil. Also, the truck uses Shell Rotella Extended Life Coolant and Shell Rotella diesel exhaust fluid.

The StarShip Project gets a cross-country road test 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.

Newington, Conn.-based AirFlow Truck Co. has previously built two aerodynamic and fuel-efficient Class 8 tractor-trailers, the first in 1983 and the most recent in 2012. The most recent rig, dubbed the BulletTruck, ran coast-to-coast hauling freight at 65,000 pounds gross vehicle weight and averaged 13.4 mpg.

Shell Lubricants refers to several companies engaged in the lubricants business of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, The Hague, Netherlands, that are engaged in the lubricants business.