Shell has just launched two new fuels to replace its standard (regular) pump fuels. Shell FuelSave Unleaded and FuelSave Diesel contain new ingredients that promise to provide fuel savings of 1 litre per 50 litre fill up (the marketing is aimed at family car drivers!).
The new fuels have been in development for five years and will replace regular unleaded, regular diesel and Diesel Extra at all Shell filling stations in the UK. Pricing will be exactly the same as the old fuels. This isn’t a premium fuel – the V-Power lineup will continue unchanged – it’s a normal fuel for normal drivers to use in all types of petrol and diesel vehicles.
Obviously the diesel fuel will be most relevant to van drivers, but for anyone who is interested, here is the technical story behind the new fuels.
Diesel engines are around 30% efficient – that is, 30% of the energy created by burning the fuel is used to drive the vehicle forwards. The rest is wasted in the form of heat, noise and so on.
Shell’s scientists identified irregular injector spray and slow ignition as two key factors affecting diesel engine efficiency. Shell’s existing diesel already contained detergents to help prevent dirty injectors (and hence irregular spray patterns) but what is new in FuelSave Diesel is an “Efficiency Improver” that increases the speed of fuel ignition. Shell claims that this improves combustion efficiency and helps reduce fuel consumption.
As anyone who has driven both petrol and diesel-engined vehicles in winter will know, the heaters in petrol-engined vehicles always warm up faster than those in diesels. The reason for this is that petrol engines are even more inefficient than diesels – just 20%-25% of the energy created when the petrol is combusted gets turned into forward motion – petrol engines get hotter, faster, than diesels.
When it came to improving the efficiency of petrol engines, Shell’s scientists identified a different area to target – lubrication. They found that the top of the cylinder and the piston heads were often inconsistently coated with oil – resulting in greater friction. The solution they came up with was focused on improving the lubrication of the piston rings. The new unleaded formula contains a lubrication agent that coats the top of the pistons when fuel is injected into the cylinders, reducing friction and thus improving combustion efficiency.
Does It Work?
Shell has had extensive independent testing done on its new FuelSave fuels and claims that they work from the first tankfull, saving up to 1 litre of fuel per 50 litre fill. I’m going to try and test this out for myself with my Transit but it could be difficult to work out a way of doing it scientifically enough – I don’t have an accurate way of measuring fuel used (other than by brimming the tank) or the ability to drain the tank of one fuel and refill it with another. If I do manage to reach any conclusions, you can be sure I’ll post them here.
In the meantime, if you try FuelSave Diesel or Unleaded and reach any conclusions of your own, leave a comment below – I’d be really interested to hear from you. Remember that if you fill up at a Shell station from Wednesday 21st July, you’ll be filling up with FuelSave (unless you use V-Power).
Shell is also running a competition for drivers to win a year’s supply of FuelSave fuel – sorry, this has now closed.