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 though the water they require an immense amount of energy that they get from massive diesel engines. The world’s largest engine is the Wartsilia-Sulzer RTA96.
This 14-cylinder, 2-stroke TRA96 engine, produced by as Swiss company is aboard the Emma Maersk weighing over 2300 tons. When the world’s biggest engine is running at 102 revolutions per minute, it produces 80 million watts of power energy which is enough to provide light to 220,000 houses.
The world’s largest engine is 14 meters tall and 28 meters long, bigger than a 4-story building. It maxes out at 102 RPM but has enough power to move anything you could dream of. It injects 6.5 ounces of diesel in every piston for every cycle. When you look at the Wartsilia-Sulzer RTA96 engine, it’s as if you are looking at a block of apartments.
One of the most remarkable feature of this mammoth contraption 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.