First Strokes In Water

The Wärtsilä high-speed W14 diesel engine for maritime and offshore applications, which was unveiled in late 2018, was the offspring of cooperation between Wärtsilä and Liebherr and is derived from Liebherr’s D96 engine family.

The W14 will be available in 12- and 16-cylinder variants with power outputs from 755 to 1 340 kW for mechanical propulsion, and from 675 to 1 155 kW electric power for auxiliary and diesel-electric propulsion applications.

Philipp Lenz, sales director Large Engine Applications at Liebherr Components in Nussbaumen, Switzerland, explained the main reasons for entering into this agreement with Wärtsilä on marine engines.

“In the past few years, Liebherr Components – originally a manufacturer supplying primarily into its own captive market – morphed into an international player taking up a position across all engine markets,” Lenz said.

To accelerate this process, the company chose different approaches; one of them being development partnerships or supply agreements with other engine manufacturers, as for example with Kohler-SDMO for power generation or Deutz for construction and industrial (C&I) applications.

“The maritime market is the second biggest market for engines above 800 kW and was new to Liebherr. Thus, we had to decide what was the best approach to enter it,” said Lenz. “Moving on into a partnership with Wärtsilä proves to be a good fit for both sides, as Wärtsilä is a main player in the medium-speed market, but was probably missing some segments that are served by high-speed engines. They have a strategic interest in the power band around 1 MW, while Liebherr was looking for a partner capable of distributing, selling and servicing marine engines worldwide.”

Lenz explained that Liebherr will deliver to Wartsila its D96 family engines adapted to marine applications and meeting IMO Tier 2 emissions regulations. For compliance with IMO Tier 3 or even more stringent regulations, Wärtsilä will develop and supply the aftertreatment system. The W14 engine for marine applications will target mainly tugboats, fishing vessels, ferries, and others; the market for offshore supply vessels is also a key one.

Another important segment for these engines is auxiliary generator sets in large commercial ships. For these versions, Liebherr will supply its D96 engine family and Wärtsilä will deal with the gen-set packaging.

“Liebherr’s scope in this agreement is to develop our existing engine family in the direction needed for marine applications,” said Lenz. “There are basically three major aspects for the marinization of an engine: the regulatory requirements, with the compliance processes set by classification societies and SOLAS; the exhaust aftertreatment package; and finally, performance requirements.

“When used for marine propulsion, the engine needs to fulfill special torque requirements – depending on the type of propulsion used – which can be reached mainly through the calibration of combustion and turbocharging. And here is where Liebherr’s development efforts mostly concentrated on.

“Furthermore, fuel economy, availability and reliability of the engine are key factors in maritime applications; performance criteria that are well-known to Liebherr from other applications like mining or railways.”

The cooperation with Wärtsilä and the engine development started beginning 2018 and, since then, a number of units have been tested at the Liebherr Components plant in Bulle, Switzerland. According to Lenz, marine-classified engines ready for pilot installations will be available by the end of 2019; the classification process is currently ongoing.

“The tests we carried out in Bulle followed our standard process for fixed-speed applications and test results indicated that the engines reach the same performance level as existing units for power generation,” Lenz commented. “The configuration and calibration of the engine for propulsion applications is ongoing and will be proofed by corresponding tests as well as in pilot installations.”

While Wärtsilä features already a similar inline engine in its range, the W20 running on heavy fuel oil, the vee-configuration W14 is expected to complete the company’s portfolio in this power range offering very good Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) value to customers. “The base design for power generation is a unit meant to be very cost effective with a high percentage of common parts. It is the same unit designed for the cooperation with Kohler-SDMO,” said Lenz. “Benchmarking showed that, in terms of footprint, power-to-weight and installation requirements, the W14 outperforms similar engines in the same power category. These characteristics make the W14 very interesting for repowering projects as well.”

Liebherr and Wärtsilä cooperate on the high-speed W14 diesel engine for maritime and offshore applications, derived from Liebherr’s D96 engine family. It will be available in 12- and 16-cylinder variants.

When asked what other steps Liebherr has in store for its large vee engine family, Lenz explained that these differ, depending on the production facility, either Bulle or Colmar in France.

“With regard to the D98 series manufactured in Colmar, the further increase of production quantities for power generation and mining applications is one of the main goals. Other applications, such as railways, will be gradually added depending on the forthcoming success in the validation of products for power generation and mining.”

He added: “For the D96 engine, our largest unit produced in Bulle, we have different ideas for its use in other applications. We have started with power generation and the maritime industry, at the same time carrying out initial field testing in oil field applications, mainly for hydraulic fracturing.

“For the future, we expect developments in other applications as well, but it is too early to talk about it at this point.”

In the past few years, Liebherr struck a number of agreements: with Kohler-SDMO, Deutz, John Deere, and Russian truck manufacturer Kamaz.

“There are different ways to approach new markets, among which finding a strong partner or working with numerous partners/providers at the same time are possible options. Liebherr will certainly explore each possibility to find the best approach for each case,” Lenz concluded.

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