Pressure to take action to improve fuel economy in transport is widespread. Shell's fuel economy student competition, called the Shell Eco-marathon, is a visible demonstration of Shell's interest in tackling this collaboratively with students, partners and the public. This year, Shell, in particular, highlighted the unsung role of engine oils in improving the fuel efficiency of a vehicle.
Many are aware of the role of cleaner fuels and advanced engines but fewer people are aware of the contribution made by engine oils in the efficiency equation. In fact, engine oils can make a difference of up to 2 percent.
Selda Gunsel, vice president of lubricants technology at Shell, said "Our technologists have been investing significant resources to create innovative lubricants, including engine oils, to unlock greater fuel efficiency in a vehicle. Lubricants are in contact with almost all parts of the engine and can significantly contribute to fuel economy gains today. The lower the viscosity of the oil, the less fuel an engine needs to use to overcome its resistance. The challenge is to determine the lowest viscosity which still provides the right level of engine protection and durability."
This year, at the Shell Eco-marathon 2013 series, Shell engaged students on the topic of engine oils and vehicle efficiency through tribology – the science behind lubrication, friction and wear.
In Asia (Kuala Lumpur) and Europe (Rotterdam), a new off-track award was introduced to encourage students to think about engine oils as an important component of their vehicle's efficiency: The Shell Helix Tribology Award. Students used lubrication principles, friction equations and tribology concepts to explain how they took full advantage of the fuel efficiency gains provided by engine oils in their vehicles. The winners were judged by lubrication technology experts from within and outside Shell.
At the Shell Eco-Marathon event in the Americas, Shell reached out to students through an
interactive Tribology Speed Matching session. Coming from the idea of "speed dating," participants moved from table to table within timed segments discussing potential solutions for the efficiency challenge using lubricants. The best idea was voted the winner by all participants.
Norman Koch, global technical director for Shell Eco-marathon, said, "Tribology is here to stay at the Shell Eco-marathon events and we are excited by the innovative ideas we have already seen and those that are yet to come."
The choice of engine oil can make a real difference to the fuel economy of a vehicle. Shell's
premium products are formulated to have benefits such as helping to increase fuel efficiency,
improved cleansing technology and extended oil change capability. Shell's premium engine oils
are Shell Helix (available in all markets except for North America) and Pennzoil (available only in
the Americas). All student teams were provided with these products for use at the 2013 Shell Ecomarathon events.