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It is not generally known that the first airless injection system (i.e. not to use compressed air to atomise the fuel) was a
common rail system. The invention of this system is often mistakenly credited to Doxford, but it was invented and
patented by Vickers of Barrow in Furness.

In this early common rail system the engine driven fuel pumps pressurised a fuel rail to about 400 bar from which pipes
led to the fuel valves operated by cams and rocking levers. Independently driven pumps were provided to prime the
system for starting.
Later systems used hydraulically operated injectors, the delivery of fuel being controlled by a cam operated valve. Fuel
quantity was controlled by an eccentric on the cam follower.

With the integration of industrial electronics into marine engineering systems coupled with the giant strides made in the
development of computer technology, it has now become possible to re-introduce the fuel injection common rail along
with other fuel injection systems, using this modern technology to time the injection of fuel without mechanical aids.

In addition to this, it has become possible to dispense with the timed camshaft altogether by using similar systems to
control operation of valves and the air start system.

The two major manufacturers of two stroke crosshead engines have both introduced a camshaft-less engine. Sulzer call
theirs the RT Flex engine, and MAN B&W call theirs the ME intelligent engine. Both engines use electrical and engine
driven axial piston pumps to pressurise servo oil rails to 200 bar which are then used for fuel injection and exhaust valve
operation. In addition MAN B&W use the servo oil to drive the cylinder lubricator units (Alpha system)

Although they both work without a camshaft and use computers to control, fuel injection, exhaust valve operation and air
starting, the method of fuel injection is different.

Sulzer use a pressurised fuel rail using a

set of jerk type pumps driven by a three
lobe cam geared to the crankshaft. The
pumps are variable delivery, based on the
ZA40 fuel pump, controlled by an
electrically driven fuel pump shaft linked
to the engine computer.

The engine computer system known as the

(WECS)controls the delivery from the
common rail to the individual cylinders via
the volumetric injection control system
which uses finely filtered engine LO
pressurised by electric pumps to 200 bar.

When the Rail Valves are energized for injection by the

Valve Driver Module, oil from the Control Rail opens
the Injection Control Valves. The fuel injectors are
pressurized and fuel oil pressure behind the Fuel
Quantity Piston maintains this pressure at the injectors.

As the Piston moves to the left a feedback signal is sent

to the Cylinder Control Module.

At low engine load the control system cuts out one of the
three injection valves per cylinder.

At very low load two of the three injection valves are cut
out. This is used to avoid visible smoke emission and to
reduce fuel consumption. It is possible to reduce engine
load to 10% with engine revolutions as low as 7RPM.

Unlike the Sulzer RT Flex engine the MAN B&W ME engine

does not operate the fuel injection on a common rail system.

Instead a solenoid operated proportioning valve (the FIVA

valve - Fuel Injection Valve Activation) allows the pressurised
servo oil under a hydraulic piston. This then moves the fuel
pump piston upwards, raising the fuel pressure and opening the
injection valves.

A nitrogen filled accumulator maintains the hydraulic servo oil

pressure during the operation of the pump.

To be able to time the fuel injection the Control Systems must know the crank angle of the individual units. To do this
two crank angle sensors are fitted at the free end of the engine. These sensors are accurate to 0.1. Cylinder pressures and
powers are continually monitored by using strain gauges built into the cylinder head, and the computer automatically
compensates for twist in the crankshaft when relating crankshaft position to cylinder pressure. the systems give complete
flexibility over start and end of injection and take into account fuel quality, dead time (the time between injection start
command being given and actual injection), and Variable Injection Timing (VIT).

The exhaust valve actuator replaces the cam operated

exhaust valve hydraulic pump on both make of
camshaftless engines. Both working on a similar principle,
servo oil at 200 bar is used to operate a piston which
operates the exhaust valve "hydraulic push rod" The oil
for operating the "hydraulic push rod" comes from the
main engine LO supply via a non return valve.

The air start system is similar to that on a conventional

engine except there is no need for a mechanically driven
distributor to open the air start valves at the correct time.

Instead of a camshaft driven, reversing air start distributor,

each air start valve is opened at the correct time by the
engine computers sending a signal to a solenoid controlled
nc (normally closed) valve.

The timing of the air start valves will vary depending on

the number of cylinders, but they will be open for a long
enough period to allow overlap, so that a valve opens
before the previous valve closes, allowing starting from
any position of rest. The nominal opening can be
considered as 0 (ie TDC) and closing at 110 ATDC.

The computer knows when to send the signal because it is

receiving information as to the crankshaft position from the
angle encoders which measure crankshaft position and

When the engine has reached firing speed the computers

shut off the air and introduce the fuel.

This gives a brief overview of the computer controlled camshaftless engine. More detailed explanations with detailed
drawings can be found in the members section under Common Rail and Camshaftless Engines
Here there are chapters on:
A Brief History Of Fuel Injection.
The RT Flex Engine Fuel Injection System.
The RT Flex Engine Exhaust Valve Actuator System.
The RT Flex Engine Air start System.
The MAN B&W ME Electronic Engine Operation.
The MAN B&W ME Fuel Injection System.
The MAN B&W ME Exhaust Valve Actuator System.
The MAN B&W ME Air start System.
The MAN B&W ME Alpha Cylinder Lubrication System.
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