High speed engines

High speed four-stroke trunk piston engines are widely specified for propelling small, generally specialized, commercial vessels and as main and emergency genset drives on all types of tonnage. The crossover point between high and medium speed diesel designs is not sharply defined but for the purposes of this chapter engines running at 1000 rev/min and over are reviewed.

Marine high speed engines traditionally tended to fall into one of two design categories: high performance or heavy duty types. High performance models were initially aimed at the military sector, and their often complex designs negatively affected manufacturing and maintenance costs. Applications in the commercial arena sometimes disappointed operators, the engines dictating frequent overhauls and key component replacement.

Heavy duty high speed engines in many cases were originally designed for off-road vehicles and machines but have also found niches in stationary power generation and locomotive traction fields. A more simple and robust design with modest mean effective pressure ratings compared with the high performance contenders yields a comparatively high weight/power ratio. But the necessary time-between-overhauls and component lifetimes are more acceptable to civilian operators.

In developing new models, high speed engine designers have pursued essentially the same goals as their counterparts in the low and medium speed sectors: reliability and durability, underwriting extended overhaul intervals and component longevity and hence low maintenance costs; easier installation and servicing; compactness and lower weight; and enhanced performance across the power range with higher fuel economy and reduced noxious emissions.

Performance development progress over the decades is highlighted by considering the cylinder dimension and speed of an engine required to deliver 200 kW/cylinder (Figure 30.1). In 1945 a bore of 400 mm-plus and a speed of around 400 rev/min were necessary; in 1970 typical medium speed engine parameters resulted in a bore of 300 mm and a speed of 600 rev/min, while typical high speed engine parameters were 250 mm and 1000 rev/min to yield 200 kW/cylinder.

Bore

(mm)

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