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Shell launches new cylinder oil

Written by Nick Blenkey

Alexia S4JULY 30, 2012 — Shell has launched what it calls “its most innovative marine engine oil in a generation.” It says that, unlike conventional cylinder oils, Shell Alexia S4, can be used across a wide range of vessel and engine types, fuel specifications, loads and climates works effectively at any vessel speed, including slow and ultra slow – especially important to modern ships that have to vary speeds to reduce fuel consumption and meet strict timetables.

“We have developed a smarter engine oil to meet the evolving needs of the modern shipping industry,” says Surinderdeep Singh, General Manager of Shell Marine Products. “Shell Alexia S4 offers operational simplicity, cost reduction potential and proven performance under tough conditions.”

Shell says Alexia S4 is a completely new formulation built on a breakthrough in the understanding of oil stress in low-speed, two-stroke diesel engines and the need for reduced costs and greater operational simplicity.

In low-speed, two-stroke diesel engines, cylinder oil is exposed to thermal, insolubles, acid and humidity stress. These stresses degrade the oil and increase significantly under slow-steaming conditions because of the longer oil residence time in the cylinder. A reduction in engine load from 90 to 30 percent was found to cause a threefold increase in lubricant residence time. Shell Alexia S4 is designed to combat all four types of oil stress under the widest range of operating conditions to help reduce costs and simplify operations. It has an SAE 40 viscosity grade that aids oil distribution inside the engine to improve the efficiency of the lubrication system, and a base number (BN) of 60, but can be used at the same feed rate as BN70 cylinder oils.

It is an all-purpose cylinder oil that can be used with distillates (up to 1,000 hours in some cases) and residual fuel oil from 0.5 to 3.5 percent sulfur levels, under a wide range of engine loads and climate conditions: polar to tropical.

The new formulation, with an innovative combination of additives, went through rigorous testing at Shell’s Marine and Power Innovation Center in Hamburg, Germany. Tests in laboratory engines under simulated slow steaming conditions demonstrated that Shell Alexia S4 provided up to a 20 percent improvement in overall engine wear, compared to Shell’s existing cylinder oil and out-performed all other oils tested. It was also extensively tested during more than 25, 000 hours of field trials, by customers and engine manufacturers MAN and Wärtsilä.

With technical support and a switch to Alexia S4, one specific trial showed a 33 percent reduction in oil feedrate.

Alexia S4 will be available to customers from 1 August 2012.

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