Thursday, October 29, 2020

Boys and their vast mechanical toys


The statistics of this engine are mind-boggling.

The Emma Maersk’s Wartsila-Sulzer RTA96-C turbocharged two-stroke diesel ship engine is the most powerful and most efficient prime-mover of super ships in the world today.

The RTA96-C is the largest engine in the world and is available in 6 through 14 cylinder versions, all are inline engines. These engines were designed primarily for very large container ships but similar large diesel engines run large ships of all kinds. Ship owners like the combination of a single engine and single propeller for reasons of efficiency and cost of production vs operation of these mega-vessels. As ships continue to get larger with new generations of larger container ships being built each year shippers like Emma’s owner, A.P. Møller – Mærsk, will need bigger engines to propel them.

To help relate to the size of this monstrous engine consider that one cylinder bore alone is just under 38″ and the stroke is just over 98″. And the alone engine weighs in at 2,300 tons and is capable of delivering 109,000 horsepower.

There's more at the link.

The Emma Maersk is more than a decade old now, and has been superseded by even larger container vessels.  These behemoths are powered by the same engine - just with a few more cylinders bolted on.

Here's Top Gear's Richard Hammond walking around one of these monsters and showing us how it works.

That's the biggest diesel engine in the world.  What about the biggest gas turbine - similar to the type of engine that powers the largest aircraft in the world (although those are much smaller)?  That would be the Siemens SGT5-8000H.  Here's a video report from 2008, showing the prototype engine being transported across Germany to its test installation at the Irsching Power Station.

Big and beefy indeed!



SiGraybeard said...

Fun fact for your readers. The displacement of a cylinder is volume of the cylinder the piston sweeps out.


For one of these cylinders, that's 111,000 cubic inches per cylinder. A six cylinder engine, the smallest one they sell, is obviously 666,000 cubic inches. A 14 cylinder is 1,554,000; one and half million cubic inches.

Rick T said...

The gas turbine generates 5x the power for ~1/6th the weight but it has the advantage of running at 3,000 or 3,600 rpm in one direction instead of varying speeds in either direction. Yes, the ship's engine can run in either direction at will, there are no gears between it and the propeller.

A Gas Turbine/Steam Turbine combined cycle power plant is the new gold standard in efficiency, much better than pure steam or gas turbine only so they are very common now. They are also very compact and quiet so they can be installed in urban areas without much issue.

hateslawns said...

Not to be a wet rag, but in a better world, big cargo ships would use steam turbines, the boilers being powered by pebble-bed reactors.

tsquared said...

Lightweights. The Al-Zour South Power Plant in Kuwait runs off of raw petroleum oil. They produce 5870 MW/hour and have a water distillation as a cooling plant as a by product. This is the one of the biggest engines in the world.

hateslawns said...

"Lightweights. The Al-Zour South Power Plant in Kuwait runs off of raw petroleum oil. They produce 5870 MW/hour and have a water distillation as a cooling plant as a by product. This is the one of the biggest engines in the world."

So, how many nautical miles can that distillation plant do per hour ;-)?

Paul, Dammit! said...

Fun fact #2. The EMMA MAERSK's engine burns the same amount of fuel at 106,000hp as the 13,000hp steam turbine of the last generation of American steam-powered tankers. Further, the 700-centistoke fuel these engines burns is about $45/ton cheaper than the 380-centistoke fuel steam ships use. Fuel costs are what drove steamships out of use.

Rick T said...

@tsquared, the Al-Zour South Power Plant isn't one single unit, it looks like at least 10 combined cycle generator sets. One report says there are 8 Gigawatt combined cycle turbine sets.

Also MW is rate number, MW per hour is a bad translation from Arabic...