Cities are central to a growing transport challenge. By mid-century, as many as three-quarters of the world's population could live in cities and the number of vehicles on our roads might double. In recent decades energy use in the transport sector has increased substantially.
With such huge demand for mobility, particularly in fast growing cities, the question is how can we reduce energy use and address CO2 emissions that impact climate change?
That's the challenge that lubricants experts from Shell, world class car designers Gordon Murray Design and engine experts Geo Technology have been considering over the past few years.
Shell concept car
The result of their collaboration has been revealed in Beijing, China. It's a lightweight, three-seat concept car designed with the kind of attention to performance, weight reduction and aerodynamics that goes into a Formula One racing car. The Shell Concept Car demonstrates an affordable way to keep our increasingly crowded cities moving while reducing energy use and emissions.
"You could build the Shell Concept Car and drive it 100,000 kilometres before consuming the same energy it takes to build an SUV which hasn't yet left the showroom," says engineer Bob Mainwaring, Shell's Technology Manager for Innovation who is leading the project.
Bespoke engine and lubricant design
The success of the venture - known as Project M - was down to collaboration. Shell and its partners designed and built the car ensuring that the car, engine and lubricant would work together optimally. The car uses a bespoke lubricant which draws on the same kind of technology used in Shell's Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology. The bespoke lubricant, not commercially available, delivered improved engine performance. On the cold portion of the European Driving Cycle, the Shell lubricants reduced CO2 emissions by 7.1% and on the combined cycle by 5.0%, when compared to standard lubricants available in the UK, showing the clear value of co-designing engine and fluids.
The bespoke engine oil was made using Shell innovative base oils, made from natural gas, using Gas-to-liquid technology, marketed as Shell PurePlus Technology.
This technology converts natural gas into crystal clear base oil with virtually none of the impurities found in crude oil. To create the finished product, the base oil is enhanced with Shell's unique mix of detergents and dispersants (added for cleanliness); anti-wear additives (to help protect the engine at low viscosities); and antioxidants (to keep the oil fresh).
This next generation mix balances efficiency and durability ensuring a very thin, high performance oil that extends engine life, reduces maintenance costs and oil consumption, while maintaining fuel economy and enabling better cleanliness.