A collaboration between research teams at Shell and Gordon Murray Design (GMD) has led to the development of an innovative concept engine lubricant, which is said to be capable of achieving a 6.5% improvement in fuel efficiency,

Using GMD’s new T.25 city car as the test bed, Shell engineers have been able to work beyond current industry specifications to formulate an ultra-low viscosity 0W-10 motor oil.

Changes in legislation and new emission standards are putting pressure on vehicle manufacturers to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

While the development of increasingly fuel efficient engines is ongoing, and has made significant progress in recent years, lubrication is one area that can provide an extra boost to help meet those targets.

A co-engineering approach between the Shell and GMD development teams used sophisticated mathematical modelling techniques to define the optimum lubricant for the T.25 engine design, helping to achieve the lowest possible engine friction.

Selda Gunsel, vice president of lubricants and b2b products technology at Shell Lubricants, says: “Blending low viscosity oil to improve fuel efficiency is actually relatively simple; the challenge comes when you look to balance it with engine protection and acceptable oil drain intervals.

“There are products on the market that have made great strides in achieving this balance – such as Shell Helix Ultra – but they have to work within the parameters of current industry specifications. We believe that now is the time to start looking at lubricant technology that goes beyond current specifications to enhance the efficiency of the cars of tomorrow.”

Although in the concept stage, the development represents a major advancement in lubricant technology, adds Gunsel. “What we have learnt feeds in to the products we are developing for use in the near future. Of course, engine oil is just one part of the fuel efficiency story, but when we take into account the pressure and incentives for vehicle manufacturers to reduce CO2 emissions the contribution from lubricants can become very significant. This is due to the fact that with less engine friction comes less fuel use and ultimately less CO2 is emitted.”