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January 11, 2012

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Shell, Tsinghua Partner in R&D

Shell Lubricants Technology formed a two-year research and development partnership with a laboratory at China’s Tsinghua University, to focus on lubrication of textured surfaces.

In a statement, Shell said the partnership with the university’s State Key Laboratory of Tribology will generate data that can be used to create solutions for Shell Lubricant’s original equipment manufacturer customers and develop research in key areas fundamental to advancing lubrication science. Via the partnership, Tsinghua University will gain access to Shell’s global lubrication technology expertise.

According to the university’s web site, the laboratory was founded by the Chinese government in 1986. The laboratory has 23 staffers and 14 research fellows, including seven professors and six associate professors.

“The laboratory’s research will focus specifically on the ‘deliberate texturing’ of surfaces in applications with moving parts,” Shell noted. “The aim will be to reduce friction and enhance surface protection, by using advanced, specialized laser-focused ion beams and photolithography techniques to create various shaped ‘dimples’ on surfaces with diameters in the range of 50 to 200 microns, and depths of 2 to 10 microns. This is a highly specialized scientific process which not all research facilities have the capabilities to perform, thus making this partnership very valuable.”

“We hope that working with the team at Tsinghua will deliver some key insights that will enhance our understanding of textured surface lubrication and help us to continue providing and developing innovative solutions for our customers,” said Cheng Chen, Shell Global Solutions (US) Inc. scientist for industrial products.

In late 2009, Shell Lubricants started up a lubricants blending plant in Zhuhai, China, with 50 million gallons per year capacity to meet growing demand. With potential for phased development to 100 million gallons per year, Shell said it could become one of its top three blending plants worldwide in terms of volume.

Shell also opened its first lubricants technical service center in Zhuhai in early 2011.