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Shell builds a 'Starship'

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With fuel economy regulations getting ever stricter, and trucking continuing to play such an important role in the transport of goods, the race is on to design super fuel-efficient trucks. With this being the case, Shell has teamed up with the AirFlow Truck Company to create the ‘Starship’ a concept big rig which is kitted out with multiple fuel-saving technologies.
It is hoped that Shell's Starship could make a significant contribution towards cutting CO2 emissions from freight.
(Image via Shell).

Transport accounts for more than one quarter of the world’s total energy use and one fifth of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, so if Shell’s Starship is successful it could make a great contribution towards the reduction of CO2 emissions.

As you can see, this is a futuristic looking truck. But the futuristic technology isn’t limited to the exterior. Under the hood, the rig is powered by a 2017 Cummins X15 six-cylinder engine generating 400 hp (298 kW) and 1,850 lb-ft (2,508 Nm) of torque, with a hybrid electric axle system providing an extra boost when climbing grades. The axle also features a downspeed configuration to maintain good pulling power while providing better efficiency. To keep the vehicle’s tyres at the optimum pressure they are fitted with a custom automatic tyre inflation system.
The Starship features a hybrid axle system which provides an extra boost when climbing grades.
(Image via Shell).

Other innovative features include a 5,000-watt solar array on the trailer roof which charges and stores power in the truck’s battery pack to provide power for the vehicle’s lights, wipers, blower motors, gauges, air conditioning, heating, microwaves and other electrical components.
A 5,000-watt solar array sits on the trailer roof to supply power for many of the truck's functions.
(Image via Shell).

The exterior of the Starship include a boat tail to make the truck as streamlined as possible and reduce drag. The exterior also makes use of active grill shutters which open and close based on the temperature, providing the engine with cooling to maximise performance and reduce fuel consumption.
Shell's Starship will be tested on a coast-to-coast journey across the US.
(Image via Shell).

To test how effective these technologies are, Shell will be sending the Starship coast-to-coast across the US. The primary metric being measured on this journey will be freight ton efficiency. As Shell puts it, “Freight ton efficiency (FTE) is usually expressed as gallons of fuel used per ton-mile of freight transported, but, equally, can be viewed as the force opposing vehicle motion per ton of goods carried. Small values of FTE are desirable and efforts to minimise the forces opposing vehicle motion and to increase the mass of goods carried will drive improvement. The mantra for this is: load up – go slow – go heavy.”

The freight ton efficiency will be measured using the truck’s on-board telematics system and will be verified by an independent third party.

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Tags: Automotive
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Shell builds a 'Starship' - Time to read 3 min
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