Shell and Beijing’s Tsinghua University join forces to undertake new lubricant research

Shell has announced a two-year research and development partnership with State Key Laboratory of Tribology.


Shell Lubricants Technology has announced a two-year research and development partnership with State Key Laboratory of Tribology in Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious institutions. The partnership will focus on work to deepen the understanding of lubrication on textured surfaces.

The partnership will generate data which can be used to create innovative solutions for Shell Lubricants’ original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers and develop research in key areas fundamental to the advancement of lubrication science.

The partnership will give Tsinghua University access to Shell’s global lubrication technology expertise based in Shell technology centres in the UK, Germany, the USA and China, and will give Shell the opportunity to work closely with world class lubricant scientists and tribologists to create innovative solutions that could be beneficial to Shell customers.

Cheng Chen, Shell Global Solutions (US) Inc. scientist for industrial products, said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with Tsinghua University, which is renowned for its excellent research heritage and top-of-the-range facilities. Creating technical edges and competitive solutions for our customers is at the heart of our business, and as such, we hope that working with the team at Tsinghua will deliver some key insights that will enhance our understanding of textured surface lubrication and help us to continue providing and developing innovative solutions for our customers.”

Professor Meng Yonggang of Tsinghua University said: “As a top university in China, we are pleased to partner with Shell, a global company with vast industry experience and years of working in the lubrication industry. We look forward to leveraging the technological expertise from both sides to create innovative solutions for the industry.”

The State Key Laboratory of Tribology boasts some of the world’s most advanced resources and research specialisations, such as laser etching techniques. The laboratory’s research will focus specifically on the ‘deliberate texturing’ of surfaces in applications with moving parts. The aim will be to reduce friction and enhance surface protection, by using advanced, specialised laser-focused ion beams and photolithography techniques to create various shaped “dimples” on surfaces with diameters in the range of 50-200 microns, and depths of 2-10 microns. This is a highly specialised scientific process which not all research facilities have the capabilities to perform, thus making this partnership very valuable.

Earlier this year, Shell opened its first Lubricants Technical Service Centre (TSC) in Zhuhai, China. The TSC is the latest addition to Shell’s global technology centre network, which brings together teams of world-class scientists and engineers, many of whom are leaders in their respective fields. Key Shell customers and automotive OEMs already benefit extensively from the technical research, training and marketing services that are developed in these centres.

 Shell Lubricants has been ranked the world’s leading lubricants suppliers for the fifth year running this year, according to a survey on the global lubricants market. The annual research, conducted by Kline & Company, gives Shell more than 13 percent of the market by volume in 2010 and a 2 percent lead over its nearest competitor.

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