The Most Powerful Diesel Engine

Ever. Literally.

A gearhead friend of ours sent along a link to a YouTube video (also embedded below) promising the world’s most powerful engine. Now, we’ll be the first to warn you that it’s just an advertisement, and for something that you’re probably not going to rush out and buy: the Wärtsilä 14RT marine engine.

A tiny bit of math: 96 cm cylinder diameter times 250 cm piston stroke = 1,809,557 CC. And it generates around 107,000 HP. That’s a fair bit, but it runs at a techno-music pace: 120 BPM RPM. With twelve cylinders, we’d love to hear this thing run. Two-strokes make such a wonderful racket! Wonder if they’ve tried to red-line it? It’s a good thing we don’t work at Wärtsilä.

The thing that astounded us most, however, was the timelapse of watching the engine being assembled in the video — it looks just like an engine! (That sounds dumber on paper than it did in our head.) No, really. As you watch the tiny ants crawling around on the scaffolding surrounding the largest cam-shaft you’ve ever seen in your life, you could be mistaken for thinking it’s a “normal” motor. Except it’s four storeys tall. Form follows function, right?

We’re pretty sure that this isn’t a hack. But it’s one of the cooler two-minute videos you’ll see today, so sit back and enjoy.

Thanks [Martin] for the tip!

71 thoughts on “The Most Powerful Diesel Engine

          1. Correct Alan. The hydraulic motor (in blue) is initially used for crankshaft positioning during assembly. The hydraulic motor design allows it to also be used as a hydraulic pump for stall torque testing and brake horsepower measurement.

      1. These engines are started with air. 30 bar air pressure are pushed into the cylinder to start rolling the engine, then fuel is added and it starts up. And for those who don’t know, these engines run in one direction or the other, they are reversible. I work on these big engines, they are fun.

  1. It is actually a 14 cylinder (but you would never use all 14 cylinders at the same time, it is specified to run on 6-12 depending on your needs). Also what are ‘storeys’? Some sort of british measurement equal to 12/9th of a story?

      1. The umlauts give it away: it’s actually a Finnish word, and the company is a Finnish-Korean partnership with the engine manufacturing in Korea.

        Finnish has half the phonemes of english and it’s actually missing a bunch of letters, including W and Z, which is why the guy pronounces it wrong. W is actually V and “Wart” is completely wrong.

        You can think of how a German would ask “Vas?” and replace s with a short trilling r – “vaR” Further still, “ä” is pronounced like “a” with the tip of the tongue lifted upwards almost touching the palate like an L. Add a big open smile and you get the sound. The letter “i” is also pronounced as “e”. The syllable break in Finnish almost always goes between double consonants so the “t” doesn’t even belong to the first syllable. It goes:

        vär : tsi : lä

        1. Though if you’re going to pronounce it by english, a close match would be “were-chilla”

          They also sell these engines into the western US for grid load following, because the western interconnect is too smal and narrow to spread the output from solar power, so they’re getting huge swings in supply and demand, and the only thing that can follow fast enough is a big diesel engine. They’re modified to run on natural gas instead of bunker oil though.

          1. It’s not the exact same engine, but they make them around 50 MW in size specifically for load following powerplants, though if someone wants the big 14RT for a powerplant then there’s no reason why they wouldn’t – as long as you pay for it.

            The load following powerplants are typically modular and built out of smaller units that fit in standard shipping containers for two reasons: cheaper to transport because you don’t have to re-assemble, and they start up faster. Downside being that you have many more times the moving parts and that spells high maintenance almost to the point that it doesn’t even matter if you run them on Moët & Chandon champagne. These things are massively expensive anyhow.

            But what are you gonna do? The wise men in the government say renewable power must be, and they’re paying people billions of dollars in subsidies to build them, and forcing utilities to take the power and deal with it by law, so that’s what you get.

      1. you’re not exactly going to install this on a canoe so while it may vary a bit depending on the ship any kind of number would be better than a meaningless “herp derp dont ask me im just a motor”. Another video linked here mentioned 250 tonnes of fuel a day so thats a start i guess even without the known km/day. I would only be interested in a rough number since i can ball park how much fuel x number of my cars would use to output that kinda power so interesting to see how this engine compares to powering a ship with a stack of cars lol

      1. Back of an envelope that works out as about 100 US gallons per mile, but with 16000 shipping containers on board a ship powered by one of these each is getting the equivalent of 160mpg.

  2. Obligatory: “Will it fit in my Honda?”

    Also, people think that “2-stroke” means that it sounds like a chainsaw…at those low RPMs it’s just a magnificent rumble.

    1. It’ll sound like 12-14 chainsaws running in slow motion!

      (I don’t actually know the timing presumable some of the cylinders are in sync and it would only sound like 2 really loud really slow chainsaws…)

  3. I’ve found myself wondering at what point would it be more efficient to have nuclear reactors on such ships? I’m sure there would be major regulatory hurdles, but I’m surprised this technology has never trickled down from aircraft carriers.

    1. …. define efficient? At any point it’s more efficient if you just count the diesel emissions. If you go by power density, then the diesel engine will still win, probably, but if you go by total energy density including the space and weight needed for the diesel, things would look different. However, I’ll guarantee that the IANA will not look friendly upon someone putting nuclear fuel on that scale on a civilian vessel going through international waters… To big the temptation of getting rid of nuclear waste in the middle of the ocean, to big the temptation of leaving the access to these fuel rods unattended for a single night in a North Korean harbour….

        1. Wrong. Nuclear == expensive returns true. It’s a statement of fact (a predicate) so Gabriel got it right the first time. All you’re doing is assigning Nuclear to be expensive.

    2. I think that the major hurdle would be that any port in the world could just say ‘no’ to nuclear-powered ships, thereby reducing the value of any nuclear fleet. The U.S. aircraft carrier fleet doesn’t have that problem.

      This also happens on a smaller scale: the Wärtsilä engine series featured in this article has the ability to run different fuel injection profiles to meet the pollution limits called out by different countries. So on the open seas, they can run at max efficiency, then shift into “clean” mode just before coming into port. Kind of like the Volkswagen diesel “cheat”, except they’re right up-front about it.

    3. Submarines, Frigates/Cruisers, Icebreakers, and even merchant vessels have used nuclear reactors. You should think more like “trickled up from submarines” and of course, the NS Savannah (which was a sexy ship!)

    1. Two stroke doesn’t inherently mean it needs oil in the fuel or does poorly in emissions. The fact that most small engines do those things is a consequence of them being extremely cheap and still often flatheads and other much older and simpler designs for both the four and two stroke designs. A better engine like say the Detroit Diesel two strokes have a few minor differences that set them apart from a regular diesel engine, but they are not notably worse than any other diesel of the period, and they offer greater power for their size.

  4. Camshaft…
    No, it’s a crankshaft. The engine uses hydraulic cylinders to actuate the exhaust valves, and the intake is just ports in the bottom of the cylinder.

  5. Wow man, youtube comments are just the most awful things all the time. The literal first comment that shows for me is “Could care less what some ricer commie fuck claims this pos rice masher can put out.” What in the world does that even mean? Holy moly…

      1. There should be a law that allows a prospective employer access to view the last 100 youtube comments of a job applicant (e.g. bypassing the anonymity of online identities).

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