Wärtsilä Corporation today inaugurated its new RTX-4 full-scale, low-speed research engine in its Diesel Technology Centre in Winterthur, Switzerland. This large, RTX-4 research engine is employed in furthering the development of Wärtsilä low-speed marine engines to meet market needs such as further improved reliability, longer times between overhauls, greater fuel efficiency and lower exhaust gas emissions, especially NOX and CO2.
Wärtsilä low-speed engines developed on the basis of the research carried out on this engine will be employed for the propulsion of all types and sizes of sea-going ships built around the world. These play an important role in everyday life as the world fleet of ships carries some 90% of international freight transport.
The engine incorporates the latest RT-flex common-rail technology
The new, RTX-4 research engine is a four-cylinder low-speed two-stroke engine of 600 mm cylinder bore. Initially it develops 10,160 kW at a nominal speed of 114 rpm. The design of the engine allows the power output to be increased to develop technologies for future market requirements. The engine incorporates the latest RT-flex common-rail technology with integrated full electronic control of all engine processes: fuel injection, exhaust valve operation, cylinder lubrication and air starting.
The RTX-4 was manufactured in co-operation with 3. Maj Shipbuilding Industry Ltd in Rijeka, Croatia, and began running in April 2008. In the short term, it will undergo a comprehensive test programme to optimize further the thermo-dynamic parameters and to validate the design. It will also serve as a powerful research tool to pave the way for future technological steps. The main areas of research with the new engine include engine efficiency, emission reduction technologies, reliability of key engine components, ease of manufacturing and low maintenance costs. It has the flexibility to apply and test new components and technologies.
The research engine can be tested on any type of heavy fuel oil without restrictions on the fuel specification. Today this is of major importance as research can be undertaken using similar fuels as production engines in actual service. It will also allow future research into the capabilities of engines to burn even lower grades of fuel oil should the quality of future bunkers be expected to deteriorate.
The best prime movers for customers´ needs
Wärtsilä is dedicated to providing its customers, whether they are shipowners, ship operators, shipbuilders or licensees, with the best prime movers for their needs now and in the future. This calls for continuous efforts to improve existing engine designs, to introduce new engines to the market and to explore the technological potential suitable for future market needs.
Thus the Diesel Technology Centre is pivotal to the activities of Wärtsilä in Switzerland which is the group’s centre of excellence for low-speed two-stroke marine diesel engines with respect to design, development, research, marketing, licensing, sales, servicing and support.
The Centre is a vital link in the process of applying new technical solutions to production engines. It serves as the forerunner to verify design ideas before field testing and commercial application. Furthermore, test engines are often run at specific loads far above those of production engines to identify risks quickly and to investigate raised design limits for subsequent product steps.
Exhaust emissions control
An important aspect of current engine development for the marine industry is the control of exhaust gas emissions. This will be an important focus of development testing on the RTX-4 research engine.
Yet the RTX-4 engine itself is equipped to meet the stringent local environmental protection requirements. Whereas on board ships the emphasis so far is on integrated ways to control exhaust emissions such as through engine tuning, the RTX-4 engine has an extensive exhaust gas after-treatment plant including a selective catalytic reaction (SCR) unit. This technology is capable of reducing the nitrogen oxides (NOX) content in the exhaust gases by more than 90% from the level at the engine outlet.
The new set-up of the engine installation is prepared for the installation of all kinds of aftertreatment technologies (particulate filters, scrubbers, etc.) to verify their practical application for future, more stringent marine regulations.
Control, monitoring and measurement
The RTX-4 research engine has its own fully-enclosed control room for the control, monitoring and supervision of the engine operation. This control room has an integrated marine automation platform that controls the engine, the ancillary systems and the dynamometer.
Further, another integration platform for test measurements handles initially more than 1000 quasi-static channels at a rate of up to 100 measurements per second. This system interfaces to the emission measurement systems, a telemetry system for temperature measurement, the dynamic measurement chain with initially 64 channels, each at a rate of up to 36,000 individual measurements over each engine revolution and an interface to the automation platform for data exchange.
The new research engine is supported by a laboratory for testing engine components and systems, such as fuel injection equipment, exhaust valve drives and a spray/combustion chamber. Fuel injection equipment can be tested using either gas oil, marine diesel oil or heavy fuel oil. There are also test rigs for full-scale RT-flex common-rail systems using actual RT-flex components both to test and evaluate the components and systems before applying them to actual engines and for long-term endurance testing.
Principal particulars of the research engines:
|No. of cylinders:||4||4|
|Cylinder bore, mm:||600||580|
|Piston stroke, mm:||2250||2416|
|Nominal speed, rpm:||114||105|
|Power output, kW:||10,160||8500|
|Dimension, L×W×H, m:||11.0 × 9.7 × 10.8|| 9.1 × 8.3 × 10.8
|Mass, tonnes:||about 200||230|
Vice President, Global Research & Development
Wärtsilä Switzerland Ltd
Direct tel: +41 52 262 4462
Direct fax: +41 52 262 0725
About Wärtsilä Corporation:
Wärtsilä enhances the business of its customers by providing them with complete lifecycle power solutions. When creating better and environmentally compatible technologies, Wärtsilä focuses on the marine and energy markets with products and solutions as well as services. Through innovative products and services, Wärtsilä sets out to be the most valued business partner of all its customers. This is achieved by the dedication of more than 17,000 professionals manning 160 Wärtsilä locations in 70 countries around the world. Wärtsilä is listed on The Nordic Exchange in Helsinki, Finland.