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Shell develops new concept synthetic lubricant for engines; up to 6.5% fuel economy benefit on urban cycle

A collaboration between research teams at Shell and Gordon Murray Design (GMD) recently led to the development of an innovative concept engine lubricant capable of achieving a 6.5% improvement in fuel efficiency on an urban cycle, and a 4.6% benefit on a combined cycle.

Using GMD’s new T.25 city car as the test bed, Shell engineers formulated an ultra low viscosity 0W-10 motor oil. The testing undertaken compares this concept lubricant to a 10W-30 oil which is a widely used viscosity in European markets. The T.25, designed to have world-leading efficiency and ultra-low emissions, features low weight and a very small engine for high fuel efficiency.

Blending low viscosity oil to improve fuel efficiency is actually relatively simple; the challenge comes when you look to balance it with engine protection and acceptable oil drain intervals. There are products on the market that have made great strides in achieving this balance, such as Shell Helix Ultra but they have to work within the parameters of current industry specifications. We believe that now is the time to start looking at lubricant technology that goes beyond current specifications to enhance the efficiency of the cars of tomorrow.

Although in the concept stage, this represents a major advancement in lubricant technology; what we have learnt feeds in to the products we are developing for use in the near future. Of course, engine oil is just one part of the fuel efficiency story, but when we take into account the pressure and incentives for vehicle manufacturers to reduce CO2 emissions the contribution from lubricants can become very significant. This is due to the fact that with less engine friction comes less fuel use and ultimately less CO2 is emitted.

—Selda Gunsel, Vice President Lubricants and B2B Products Technology at Shell Lubricants

Shell’s portfolio of lubricant brands includes Pennzoil, Quaker State, Shell Rotella T, Shell Helix, Shell Rimula, Shell Tellus, Monarch and Jiffy Lube. Shell has leading lubricants research centers in Germany, Japan (joint venture with Showa Shell), UK, and the USA.

In 2002, Shell acquired Pennzoil-Quaker State Company to become the No. 1 lubricants marketer in the USA. Pennzoil motor oil has been one of the leading motor oil brands in the USA since 1985. In 2006, Shell acquired a 75% share in Tongyi, which is China’s leading independent lubricant manufacturer. Today Shell is the leading international lubricants supplier in China and has the third largest share of China’s rapidly growing market.

In November 2009, Shell opened its sixth lube oil blending plant in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China. With a production capacity of 200 million liters a year, and the potential for a phased development to 400 million litres a year, the complex could become one of Shell’s top three lubricants blending plants worldwide in volume terms.

(A hat-tip to Ray!)

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Comments

HarveyD

This is very good news for all ICE supporters and for oil importing nations such as USA.

It is easy to figure out why Shell and other lubricant/fuel producers/distributors have not come out with it 50 years ago.

TM

Right Harvey. They had this technology in 1960 and were sitting on it for 50 yrs. It's a big conspiracy.

Mannstein

Conspiracy my ass. Try running this lubricant in an engine which isn't designed for it and it will last from 12:00 till noon.

HarveyD

Mannstein....would it be too difficult to establish a communication line/system (Internet/telephone/Telex/Mail etc?) between ICE manufacturers and lubricant makers to iron this out? Required coordination could have been do 50+ years ago? Your conclusion does not hold.

Or, is this a last effort from a dying technology? We all want to live a bit longer?

Either way, a 6.5% fuel consumption reduction using superior lubricants could mean $$B for USA's users and a major reduction in oil import, GHG and trade deficit. It should be taken seriously.

Herm

"The testing undertaken compares this concept lubricant to a 10W-30 oil which is a widely used viscosity in European markets"

What new car in any market requires 10w-30 oil?.. maybe 20 years ago.

HarveyD

We use the same synthetic lubricant year round and get about 5%+ better (less) fuel consumption and even better in winter time when temperatures drop to -30C. After 12+ years and 165,000+ Km, my wife's Camry runs like new and it could probably go another 165,000+ Km. Good synthetic lubricants last 3 to 4 times as long as regular stuff with appropriate filter.

Will this Shell new lubricant do much better? May be.

Mannstein

HarveyD

I'm all for reducing fuel consumption by any and all means possible. However running a low viscosity lubricant in an engine that wasn't designed for it is asking for trouble. The lubricating film in the engine's hydrodynamic bearings will break down should their clearances are too large. One reason why piston aero engines must run on 50 weight oil instead of 30.

To state that the car companies conspired to keep this lubricant off the market for 50 years is a stretch. It would be interesting to see data supporting such an outrageous claim.

HarveyD

It may have been plain resistance to change (hopefully) because there are no technological reasons why it was not done 50 years ago.

Leave it to unregulated private industries and we will all weight 400+ lbs, eat 5000+ calories a day, smoke 40+ cigarettes a day and drive 4+ tonnes gas guzzlers. That's how much they care about our health and our well being.

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