Shell’s Starship Initiative, a fuel-efficiency demonstration truck, will move from pushing diesel-truck efficiency to renewable natural gas.
Shell Starship 3.0 will be updated with a Cummins X15N natural gas engine that will run on Shell RNG. Demonstration runs will be conducted this summer.
Since 2018, the ambition of the Shell Starship initiative has been to demonstrate how a Class 8 truck’s energy usage can be reduced by harnessing currently available energy-efficient technologies and lubricants, as the transportation industry accelerates toward a lower carbon future. Starship 2.0 debuted in 2021.
Like the first two versions, the new Starship 3.0 will capitalize on some of the latest available technology. But unlike the first two, it will be powered by renewable natural gas.
“This next-generation Starship truck will feature the new Cummins 15-liter natural gas engine,” said Selda Gunsel, president, Shell Global Solutions, vice president, fuels and lubricant technology, Shell, during a press conference at ACT Expo. “It also features an innovative design that integrates a best-in-class aerodynamic cab and trailer, advanced Bridgestone low-rolling resistance tires, and a driveline powered by Shell renewable compressed natural gas and low-friction lubricants.”
The Cummins X15N natural gas engine will run on Shell Renewable Natural Gas (RNG), which is commercially available and has a low carbon intensity rating.
RNG is a natural gas transportation fuel derived from organic waste and is interchangeable with Compressed Natural Gas and Liquid Natural Gas in vehicles.
Shell Starship 3.0 will include components and features that promote lightweighting and low aerodynamic drag, along with low-rolling-resistance tires from Bridgestone. The interior of the truck has been updated to make it comfortable for the driver on the road and inviting for passengers along for the ride.
Summer Demonstration Runs on RNG
Shell Starship 3.0 will make a demonstration run on the West Coast in preparation for a cross-country demonstration run from San Diego, California, to Jacksonville, Florida, in August. The two previous cross-country runs have followed this route. The North American Council for Freight Efficiency will again monitor and verify the results.
Starship 3.0 will deliver a material demonstration of sustainable freight ton efficiency, using the key performance metric of ton-miles of goods shifted per kilogram of CO2 emitted. The truck will showcase how fleets can reduce their energy usage and carbon emissions, without losing focus on the cost of their operations. The natural gas engine using Shell R-CNG will reduce emissions when compared with a diesel engine.
Additional details about the equipment on Shell Starship 3.0 and information about the test drivers will be announced soon.
Final Starship 2.0 Run
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.
Shell Starship 2.0 successfully executed two trips traveling 3,670 miles on existing routes between the Shell Houston Regional Distribution Center to the Fontana Regional Distribution Center in California and from Fontana to the Atlanta Regional Distribution Center. 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 pounds 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 pounds of product to the brand new ARDC in Atlanta.
Houston to Fontana: Shell Starship 2.0 achieved 241.5 ton-miles per gallon for freight ton efficiency – a 3.1 times improvement over the North American average freight ton efficiency for trucks which is 75.9 ton-miles per gallon. It averaged 10.41 mpg on the drive from Houston to Fontana. Its best section for fuel economy was 11.2 mpg.
Fontana to Atlanta: Shell Starship 2.0 achieved 251 ton-miles per gallon for freight ton efficiency – a 3.3 times improvement over the North American average freight ton efficiency for trucks. Shell Starship 2.0 achieved an impressive 10.92 mpg on the cross-country drive from Fontana to Atlanta. Its best section fuel economy was 12.1 mpg.
With reporting by Jack Roberts