Shell and the AirFlow Truck Co. showed off their Starship Project tractor this week during the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition in Atlanta.
The Shell and AirFlow project's goal, which began in 2015, is to use leading-edge technology and materials that are available today in innovative ways to meet the demands for fuel economy required by government regulations and the trucking industry, according to Shell.
While electric and alternative power vehicles are presented as the future of trucking, the reality is that diesel powered vehicles hold the vast majority of the market, Shell says. Fleets and owner-operators are facing possible diesel fuel tax increases of up to 50 cents per gallon as the government looks for ways to funded necessary infrastructure projects, making it increasing necessary to use a holistic approach to truck design and operating costs by working with the best of what is available today to realize the greatest efficiency and economy, the company says.
The Starship's sleek aerodynamic designed tractor's hood, front end and deep side skirts are made of carbon fiber to reduce weight and drag. A 2017 Cummins X15 Efficiency 6-cylider, 400 horsepower engine provides 1850 ft.-lb. of torque and is calibrated with the transmission to run at very low speeds, down to 800 rpm.
A 5,000 watt solar array on top of the unit powers interior accessories which lessens the energy draw from under the hood. The wrap-around windshield was designed specifically for the Starship.
As part of the project's holistic design, Shell specified synthetic lubricants including Shell Rotella T6 Ultra 5W-30 low viscosity FA-4 oil for the engine.
The Starship will do a cross-country fully loaded evaluation run in May from California to Florida to measure efficiency.