Global transport challenges, such as mobility trends, modern engine technology and new regulatory and specification requirements, are making the research and development of fuel and lubricant solutions critical for enhancing vehicle efficiency, states oil company Shell South Africa.
“The combination of quality heavy-duty engine lubricants and fuel has always been vital in ensuring optimum vehicle maintenance and performance.
“New legislative and technology standards, however, require original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and fuel and lubricant companies to partner to develop next-generation solutions,” says Shell South Africa commercial technical manager Raymond Abraham.
He adds that, while South Africa is lagging behind other countries in adopting European legislation, global OEM developments to meet these increasingly stringent specifications are already influencing the local space.
Heavy-duty diesel engine oil (HDDEO) and fuel must be designed to improve fuel economy and reliability, ensuring that the engine runs smoothly, Abraham suggests. “Even in cold weather, the fuel should not damage the engine and the filter must not become blocked with dirt and sludge.”
Products must also improve power to allow the vehicle to pull heavy loads at the best possible performance level, as well as enable compliance with emissions legislation, eliminating black smoke and particulates.
In the case of HDDEO, in particular, the lubricant must prevent valve train wear, oil filter blockage, bearing corrosion, the formation of deposits on the turbocharger, and intercooler, piston ring and cylinder liner wear as well as sludge build-up.
“It should, at the same time, ensure piston cleanliness while resisting oil oxidation and thickening.”
Abraham adds that these may be considered standard requirements for lubricant formulators and are typically met by combining specific base oils and additives.
“However, to find solutions that speak to the future requirements of the transport sector, OEMs need to actively partner with fuel and lubricant manufacturers to ensure products and product technology are designed to meet both existing and anticipated future requirements, especially when it comes to efficiency and emissions,” he says.
To this end, Shell has eight research and development laboratories strategically placed worldwide, where major OEMs are located.
“Our partnerships with OEMs have helped us to better understand the relationship between fuels and lubricants in reducing fuel consumption and, correspondingly, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – as per the regulations, which are becoming tighter each year,” says Abraham.
He notes that the challenges of reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are currently driving engine technology development at global level for most major OEMs.
“OEMs, in particular, are being forced to look at engine design – including the role of fuels and lubricants in the engine – to identify ways to reduce the overall emissions of their vehicles and equipment to comply with regulations and avoid significant fines. “This makes partnerships with fuel and lubricant manufacturers critical.”
Abraham says a good example of the type of OEM relationship required can be seen in Shell’s partnership with OEM Daimler in the latter’s Record Run 2011. “Daimler’s Record Run 2011 was designed to test the fuel efficiency of its new trucks. “The event saw three Daimler trucks complete a 10 000 km journey from the Netherlands to Poland in normal traffic conditions.”
During this time, the trucks were exclusively fuelled with Shell’s FuelSave Diesel and lubricated with Shell Rimula R6 LME engine oil. The run saw the Mercedes-Benz Actros (Euro V version) and Actros (Euro VI version) achieve fuel savings of 7.6% and 4.5% respectively, compared with the standard Actros, which holds the 2008 Guinness World Record for fuel efficiency.