Container ships are some of the largest and heaviest vessels that plough on the seas. They measure up to 1,200 feet in length and can move 10,000 to 16,000, 20-foot steel containers in one trip. To push these vessels through the water require immense amount of energy, that are derived from massive diesel engines. Some of the larger cargo ships have engines that look like this.

RT-flex96C-1

This is RT-flex96C – a two-stroke turbocharged diesel engine designed by the Finnish manufacturer Wärtsilä and is currently the largest and most powerful diesel engine in the world. Standing at 13.5 meters high and 26.59 meters long, it is almost as big as a small apartment. It weighs over 2,300 tonnes and its largest 14-cylinder version produces 80,080 kW of power.

The 14-cylinder version was put into service in September 2006 aboard the Emma Mærsk, a container ship – the largest at that time. The design is based on the older RTA96C engine, but revolutionary common rail technology has done away with the traditional camshaft, chain gear, fuel pumps and hydraulic actuators. The result is better performance at low revolutions per minute (rpm), lower fuel consumption, and lower harmful emissions.

One of the most remarkable feature of this behemoth is the high thermal efficiency, which exceeds 50%. This means that 50% of the heat generated by burning fuel is converted to power. For comparison, most automotive and small aircraft engines can only achieve 25-30% thermal efficiency. Even at its most efficient power setting, the big 14-cylinder engine consumes 1,660 gallons of heavy fuel oil per hour.

Some stats about the engine:

Bore: 960 mm
Stroke: 2,500 mm
Displacement: 1,820 liters per cylinder
Mean piston speed: 8.5 meters per second
Engine speed: 22–102 RPM
Torque: 7,603,850 newton metres (5,608,310 lbf·ft) @ 102 rpm
Power: up to 5,720 kW per cylinder, 34,320–80,080 kW (46,680–108,920 BHP) total
Mass of fuel injected per cylinder per cycle: ~160 g (about 6.5 ounces) @ full load
Crankshaft weight: 300 tons

Emma-Mærsk

The Emma Mærsk

RT-flex96C-3

RT-flex96C-5

RT-flex96C-7

RT-flex96C-8

RT-flex96C-9

RT-flex96C-4

Sources: Wikipedia, Dark Roasted Blend, Emma Mærsk

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