New Ship Engines Are Bigger and Better

Ship engines are being forced to deliver ever increasing amounts of power as the cargo capacity of vessels continues to increase. There are now ships that carry ten thousand containers, and even larger vessels are in the works. Rising costs for fuel have prompted firms to explore new methods for engine design including gas turbines and a variety of hybrids. For now though, diesel power remains the workhouse of modern maritime engine technology. Other technologies are relegated mainly to combat vessels, where speed is more the issue than cost efficiency. Currently the most powerful diesel is made by the Swiss firm Wartsila Sutzer, which may seem strange given that country’s landlocked geography. Their RTA 96-C motor is a two stroke, turbocharged engine that comes in a variety of configurations ranging from 6 to 14 cylinders. The 14 cylinder model is 88 feet in length and 44 feet tall. The behemoth weighs in at 2300 tons and can produce about 109,000 horsepower operating at 102 rpm’s. Each cylinder head measures 38 inches across with a stroke of 98 inches giving a total displacement of just over 111,000 cubic inches. Each cylinder can produce 7780 horsepower. The thermal efficiency of this monster…
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