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Shell is testing a new line of ultra-efficient freight trucks fitted with solar arrays on top

Since trucks are one of the most important mean for transportation of goods. Since, the pressure to reduce transportation costs remains persistent throughout the globe, it is important to make highway haulers increasingly fuel-efficient.

The solution to this situation may lie with Shell. In collaboration with Connecticut-based AirFlow Truck Company, Shell Lubricants is on a mission to work on a concept called “The Starship”. This hauler, equipped with several fuel-conservation technologies, is shipped from one coast to another in order to carry out performance tests.

Image Credits: Shell

The AirFlow truck Company has been in the market for a long time. Ever since then, they have designed various vehicles in the effort to improve fuel-efficiency. Some of them include the Cabover prototype, designed in the early 80s. The BulletTruck followed next, which provided an average of 13.4 mpg while carrying 65,000 lb. of weight from sea to shining sea. AirFlow is now on the way to develop its third-generation prototype with Shell providing the technical knowledge as well as various lubricant recommendations.

So, how do they plan to make it economical? Well, the trailers take on an aerodynamic shape, with the hood, bumper, front and rear side skirts made from carbon fiber. This enables the rig to be lightweight and overcome air resistance with no difficulty whatsoever.  Furthermore, lattice framed shutters cover the front, directing air around the truck when airflow is not required to cool the engine. Hence, reducing the time it takes to heat the engine in winters. There is also a boat tail at the other extremity of the truck, which reduces drag, and hence, losses.

Image Credits: Shell

Shell has made it even more energy-efficient by installing a 2017 Cummins X15 six-cylinder engine that generates up to 400 horsepower and 1,850 lb-ft of torque. A hybrid electric axle system provides extra power when the truck moves on sloping surfaces and its down speed configuration feature keeps the pulling power high and maintains efficiency. Even the tires give maximum performance because of the Automatic Tire Inflation System (ATIS), which keep them at optimum pressure!

The technological superiority doesn’t end there though. The truck has 5000-watt solar panels panned out on the top of the truck. These charge a 48-volt battery bank, which helps run LED lights, wipers, blower motors, gauges, air conditioning and microwaves.

Image Credits: Shell

The Starship’s journey began at the Shell Make the Future event at Sonoma Raceway. It’s about to make its first trip from California to Florida, carrying the maximum permissible weight of items of about 80,000 lb. During the journey, the team will measure different variables such as fuel economy and weight carrying proficiency to calculate the net efficiency of the truck.

If the entire transport industry takes a dynamic shift towards more fuel-efficient vehicles, the world might be a more sustainable place to live in!

Sources: ShellAirFlow Truck Company (via: New Atlas)

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