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Power Technology

The World's Most Powerful Diesel Engine 273

trex279 writes "The Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged two-stroke diesel engine is the world's most powerful diesel engine built to date. Each cylinder displaces a whopping 111,143 cubic inches (1,820 liters, equivalent to a cube 4 feet on a side) and produces 7,780 horsepower. The engine is about the size of a small building." The engine is intended for use in container ships.
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The World's Most Powerful Diesel Engine

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  • yeah but (Score:2, Funny)

    by mr_luc ( 413048 ) *
    That thing got a HEMI?
    • Re:yeah but (Score:5, Funny)

      by RancidMilk ( 872628 ) on Monday January 01, 2007 @02:05PM (#17423216)
      I can't wait to put one of those in my SUV. Think I could get 10 mpg?
      • Re:yeah but (Score:4, Informative)

        by rah1420 ( 234198 ) <rah1420@gmail.com> on Monday January 01, 2007 @02:10PM (#17423250)
        From TFA:

        Even at its most efficient power setting, the big 14 consumes 1,660 gallons of heavy fuel oil per hour.

        I've seen this web site before, but probably not cited on /. so I guess I can't holler "Dupe!" It's in my bookmarks tho'.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by karnal ( 22275 )
        I know you were joking, but for those who haven't read the article, I found this interesting:

        Even at its most efficient power setting, the big 14 consumes 1,660 gallons of heavy fuel oil per hour.

        And the article also stated at the most efficient setting, the engine is >50% thermal efficient (more than 50% of energy is transferred to motion, rather than heat)

        Of course, definitely not a consumer item!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rcw-home ( 122017 )

      That thing got a HEMI?

      I know you're joking, but if you look at the cross-section in the article, you'll see that they wisely passed over the hemispherical head for a pent-roof head. They also made the engine incredibly undersquare - it has a 0.38 bore-to-stroke ratio. Diesels require very high compression ratios, and it's worth compromising a redneck's sense of aesthetics to get it.

  • The engine is built by a Japanese company, but in the photographs, that's Korean on the walls.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 01, 2007 @02:10PM (#17423256)
    At least read the article before posting it:

    The cylinder bore is just under 38" and the stroke is just over 98". Each cylinder displaces 111,143 cubic inches (1820 liters) and produces 7780 horsepower. Total displacement comes out to 1,556,002 cubic inches (25,480 liters) for the fourteen cylinder version.

    Some facts on the 14 cylinder version:

            Total engine weight: 2300 tons (The crankshaft alone weighs 300 tons.)
            Length: 89 feet
            Height: 44 feet
            Maximum power: 108,920 hp at 102 rpm
            Maximum torque: 5,608,312 lb/ft at 102rpm
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kadin2048 ( 468275 )
      I find it interesting that they're building engines like this, because it was my understanding that most new ships being constructed today are being built with diesel-electric systems. Inside the hull there's a turbine-driven electric generator, and then suspended below the hull are several "azipods," containing an electric motor connected to the propeller. The advantage over a conventional prop-shaft system is that there are fewer seals -- you don't have the big shaft going through the hull below the water
  • That sucker looks eerily like the M Machine near the start of Metropolis [imdb.com].

    Life imitating art? (More likely it's just an obvious design, but still.)
  • by ettlz ( 639203 ) on Monday January 01, 2007 @02:23PM (#17423370) Journal
    Do NOT put petrol into the tank.
  • Yes, but... (Score:2, Funny)

    by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 )
    does it run on straight vegetable oil?

    (You thought I was going to ask something else, did you?)
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Monday January 01, 2007 @02:28PM (#17423410)
    In terms of fuel consumption, and air pollution, is it better to have one huge powerful engine, or two or more less powerful engines?
    • by interiot ( 50685 )
      The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] implies that it's more efficient to have a single engine (in terms of fuel consumption, at least).
    • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Monday January 01, 2007 @02:57PM (#17423574) Journal
      If you are talking diesel, one big engine, from my limited experience. This is due to the engine working at very low RPMS and in a ship, you are producing a steady load, not "start and stop" like driving a car in the city. Diesels also power down nicely and use fuel according to the load, so running at half of potential power uses much less fuel.

      I also note the article does NOT say 7780 HP, it says 108,920 horsepower at 102 rpm and more importantly, 5,608,312 lb/ft at 102rpm. I knew that 7780 HP was wrong because you can tweak the fire out of a 6 litre chevy diesel and get 1000 HP and 1500 to 2000 lb/ft torque.

      Most diesels have a 3/2 to 2/1 ratio of torque over HP, but then most peak in the 2400-3800RPM area, not 102. That is an absurd amount of torque, which is what is needed to twist a prop, after all. At 1,556,002 cubic inches, this is 3.6 lb/ft of torque for every cubic inch, which is similar to the above example of a 6.0L engine (364 cu. in.) getting 1310.4 lb/ft. (stock would be closer to 650-850 lb/ft).

      In otherwords, a pretty efficient engine.
      • The confusion comes from the fact that the 7780 horsepower is PER CYLINDER. What this really is, though, is a super torque monster.
      • by sharkey ( 16670 )

        I also note the article does NOT say 7780 HP, it says 108,920 horsepower at 102 rpm and more importantly, 5,608,312 lb/ft at 102rpm.

        Actually, it does. The submitter's comments expanded upon this quote direct from the article:

        Each cylinder displaces 111,143 cubic inches (1820 liters) and produces 7780 horsepower.
        The 7780 horses refers to a single cylinder, and 108,920 horses refers to the full 14-cylinder engine.
      • Most Diesels do NOT peak at 2400-3800 rpm. Far from it. They are most reliable and efficient at around a mean piston speed of 5-7M/sec. Given the huge range of Diesel sizes (see my other post on this story) this is a range from maybe 12000 RPM down to 75. Chevy Diesels are, in world terms, hardly significant.

        In fact the most efficient rpm range of the base level Volkswagen 1.9L engine - a very high volume unit - is around 1900-2400 rpm, and that is a small engine.

        Furthermore, the torque required to turn a

    • by jelle ( 14827 )
      In terms of fuel consumption, and air pollution, is it better to have one huge powerful engine, or two or more less powerful engines?

      Or how about three diesel engines that are each more powerful than this supposedly most powerful diesel engine:

      http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question647.htm [howstuffworks.com]
    • by isaac ( 2852 )
      One large engine is more efficient. Just think about the ratio of the surface area of moving parts in contact with each other to engine displacement - all other things being equal, one large engine will have less mechanical (friction) loss than two smaller engines.

      -Isaac
  • er (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 ) on Monday January 01, 2007 @02:29PM (#17423420) Journal
    If they're now making desiel engines this size for cargo, I'm curious if perhaps it's time to switch to nuclear. The waste-return equation seems out of whack for petrochemical solutions.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by eclectro ( 227083 )
      I'm curious if perhaps it's time to switch to nuclear.

      I think that the idea of floating breeder reactors or a floating three mile island will hamper that switch. Even though there are military nuke ships.
      • I think that the idea of floating breeder reactors or a floating three mile island will hamper that switch. Even though there are military nuke ships.

        So why not let the military handle it?

        They have knowedge, expertise and sailors. They could easily design, build and operate a fleet of container ships. This seems like something that falls under the classifcation of a public good, much like the interstate highway system.

        • Let's have them handle all transportation: it's a "public good". Let's have the government take over all communications, too. And agriculture and housing. In fact, let's have them take over the entire economy. After all, it worked so well for the USSR...

          BTW, whose military did you have in mind? You do know that very few freighters are US registered, don't you?
          • by Dunbal ( 464142 )
            BTW, whose military did you have in mind? You do know that very few freighters are US registered, don't you?

                  Liberia and Panama, of course!
    • > ...I'm curious if perhaps it's time to switch to nuclear.

      Long past time, but for politics.
    • There have been 4 nuclear-powered freighters so far. The Otto Hahn and NS Savannah proved to be more expensive to operate than their fossil-fueled counterparts, the Mutsu never carried any cargo, and only Sevmorput is still in (Russian) service.
      Cost will still be an issue. Modern reactor designs can go without refueling for their entire lifetime, eliminating one huge problem/cost factor.
      Also, a nuclear reactor requires more (and more qualified) manning than a diesel engine. Modern cargo ships are operated b
  • If you like big machines, take a look at the Bagger 288 [birdhouse.org]. (Search for "Bagger 288" for other pictures. This one gives a good perspective on the incredible size of this thing.)
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday January 01, 2007 @02:52PM (#17423526) Homepage

    In terms of mere size, this is comparable to steam engines of 1904 [nycsubway.org]. The Interborough Rapid Transit Company (the "IRT" to New Yorkers) built a plant in 1904 with a total output of 132,000 horsepower. The compound steam engines had bigger cylinders than this Diesel; 42 inches and 86 inches, compared to 38 inches for the new marine Diesel.

    That was the high point of piston engines. Electrical generation was already converting from pistons to turbines, and even that 1904 IRT plant had a few smaller steam turbines.

    There have been much more powerful marine powerplants than this, but they're usually multi-engine turbine systems. There's an annoying tendency in commercial shipping to have only one engine on large ships, which occasionally leads to accidents. [ntsb.gov]

  • by georgewilliamherbert ( 211790 ) on Monday January 01, 2007 @02:52PM (#17423530)
    The MAN B&W 14K98MC7 has nearly 8% more power (116,875 HP vs 108,920 HP for this Wartsila-Sulzer) http://www.manbw.com/engines/TwoStrokeLowSpeedProp Engines.asp?model=K98MC7 [manbw.com]

    Great fact-checking to start 2007 with...
  • The MAN 14K98MC7 [manbw.com] is rated up to 87220 kW (vs. 80080 kW).

    CC.
  • The company that designed this engine has some history. They were Rudolph Diesel's employer in the late 1800s.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulzer_Brothers_Ltd [wikipedia.org].

    --Pat
  • by stefanb ( 21140 ) * on Monday January 01, 2007 @03:02PM (#17423620) Homepage
    The product page [wartsila.com] has a couple of PDFs with actual technical data and some nice photos. Oh, and in terms of real units, the power output is up to 80 MW for the largest model.
  • copyright violation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Monday January 01, 2007 @03:20PM (#17423778) Homepage
    Hnm...the article is a little disreputable. As far as I can tell, here's what happened. Some guy named Todd Walke scraped photos and diagrams out of the pdfs on this [wartsila.com] Wartsila web page. He made his own web page, which, AFAICT from Google, no longer exists, possibly because he got a take-down notice from Warsila. Meanwhile, a bunch of other people have mirrored the page. So in other words, the Slashdot story linked to somebody's copyright-violating copy of a copyright-violating copy of some of Wartsila's pics. As other people have pointed out, it's actually not the world's most powerful diesel engine, either. Oh well, the pics are cool!
  • Not the diesel you buy at the pump anyway. It runs on heavy fuel oil, which is ... almost a different thing altogether. As for starting it, If I remember correctly, they use some kind of compressed air starter.
    (I am not an marine diesel engineer, but, I remember talking to a friend who is. My memory is not what it used to be, so ... grain of salt usage might be prudent.)
    • I think you're probably right about the compressed air starting system. This reminds me of when I used to mess around with car engines, and one of the conversation pieces the guys had around the shop was a valve with a diameter about 3 times larger than what you'd see on even a very large engine. It had AIR stamped on it, and nothing else. Word from the guys was that some large marine engines use a compressed air starting system, and that the valve was probaby a part of that system. I had no reason to d

    • > As for starting it, If I remember correctly, they use some kind of compressed
      > air starter.

      The usual method is to run compressed air into one of the cylinders.
  • Well, I thought it would go into the next generation Viper :))))

  • I read a couple articles in TNY a few years back about the massive engines used by coal-carrying trains here in the USA. The author stated that hybrid engines, basically diesels generating the electric power for the electric motors (one per wheel) were the only type that could provide enough power to pull the 2-3 mile long trains in use. So: is it really a power-to-wieght (or size) problem? Otherwise I would have to wonder why the locomotives are hybrid but this here monster is pure diesel.
    • The electric motors act as a transmission for the locomotive. By connecting them in series, they can greatly increase the torque available at 0 RPM, and then switch to parallel and provide more HP at higher wheel RPMs. (The electrics also run in either direction with the same efficiency, eliminating the need for a reverse gear.) Finally, the electrics can provide brake-saving regenerative braking, where the electric motors convert motive power into heat, which is released through resistor grids along the
  • by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Monday January 01, 2007 @04:24PM (#17424334)
    And I admit I love these things. The wonderful thing about Diesels is how well they scale, like a supremely well designed web server or database engine. Petrol engines seem to have a cylinder optimum of around 250-500 cc, which is why you get the usual range of engine sizes and options (from the classical 250cc single cylinder motorbike to the 12 cylinder 4 litre V12 that Jaguar once produced.) You can go outside this range, down to 25cc two strokes and up to the 700cc or so sometimes used in the US, and you can get more output, for a short time, with smaller cylinders, but you are departing from the optimum for efficiency.

    Now look at Diesels. The smallest working Diesels are the little glow plug engines that are used to power model aircraft - actually semi-Diesels whose spiritual big daddy is the classical single cylinder 9 litre like the Bolinder. The biggest are these marine monsters with their two-metre throws. But they all are constrained by a few parameters that are broadly the same - the MEP and the mean piston speed.

    At the normal running speed of about 100rpm the engine in the article is doing about 6-7 metres per second. At its normal cruising rpm of about 2000, my car engine is doing 33 revs per second * 2 * 90mm stroke - or 6 metres/sec. I haven't checked, but I fully expect that the working MEPs are within the same ballpark. It's nice to see that engines ranging from grammes to kilotonnes are constrained by a simple law based in metallurgy and tribology.

    The other nice thing is, that with the exception of the tiny toy engines, all Diesels work more or less the same way, and the direction of change is by downwards replacement - technologies developed for large marine engines find their way ultimately into small engines. Modern auto engines with their electronic solenoid operated injection systems are basically a shrink of the marine technology of the 80s and 90s. Turbochargers also undergo shrinkage as their technology moves from marine to auto use, so we get the variable vane turbocharger turning up on entry level cars.

    It would be wrong to force too many analogies, but there are resemblances between Diesel systems development and computer development that are perhaps more than skin deep.

  • This truck runs on Diesel with three engines that deliver 36000 horses together, so much more than this engine...

    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question647.htm [howstuffworks.com]
  • http://www.mes.co.jp/english/business/energy/energ y_01.html [mes.co.jp] The k98mc has 7780 hp PER CYLYNDER, up to 93360 hp (at the crank)
  • Seems to have gone down in flames. Too bad.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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