Fuel Saving with Sulzer RT-flex

German Weisser
Manager Engine Performance
Wärtsilä Switzerland Ltd, Winterthur

Delta Tuning has been introduced in Sulzer RT-flex common-rail engines to provide lower fuel consumption
in the effective operating load range. It is offered as an alternative to the original tuning thereby allowing ship
owners and operators to choose the BSFC (brake specific fuel consumption) curve which best suits their ship’s
operating pattern.
This is made possible by the tremendous flexibility in engine settings provided by the computer-controlled
common-rail systems of Sulzer RT-flex engines.

As the flexibility of the RT-flex common-rail system is concept led to the layout fields which we have used for
explored in Sulzer low-speed engines, a new benefit has some years.
been developed in terms of extending the choice in fuel It gave a choice but there were penalties in reduced
consumption through Delta Tuning. engine power or alternatively a need for ‘more engine’ in
Choice in fuel consumption is not completely new. terms of more cylinders or larger cylinder bore for the
Since about 1980, Sulzer low-speed engines have been same power.
offered at ratings lower than the maximum continuous Now, with the Sulzer RT-flex common-rail engines, we
rating (now designated the R1 point) with benefits in are at the beginning of a new era in engine technology.
lower fuel consumption. There was, of course, also the This is encouraging new ways of thinking thereby leading
benefit of improved propulsive efficiency through the to new concepts.
possibility of reduced propeller rotational speeds. This Whereas traditional camshaft-controlled engines were

Fig. 1: The first engine
employing Delta Tuning
is this 45,760 kW Sulzer
8RT-flex96C engine
seen here in the course of
erection at HSD Engine
Co Ltd, Korea.

—1— © Wärtsilä Corporation, July 2004

have already been carried over to the computer-controlled controlled common-rail system are the engines’ greatly common-rail systems of the RT-flex engines. These benefits in engine setting possible with the RT-flex computer. The challenge is to use this freedom to create timing (VIT) and. the change to electronically-controlled changes in the RT-flex software to adjust the respective common-rail systems allows the timing. This is because in the RT-flex It must be pointed out that RTA engines have always system. Two fuel consumption curves are now fuel saving can be up to 2 g/kWh depending upon the available as standard for RT-flex engines: the original one engine model and the rating point selected. the controllable. exhaust emissions. engine functions are fully programmable. rate and pressure engine setting parameters. This flexibility allows patterns of operation main objective has been to obtain the same performance which cannot be achieved by purely mechanical systems. etc. Both have in RT-flex engines than with RTA engines. 50% 75% 100% [04#102] Load ∆BSFC. g/kWh 4 2 0 171 g/kWh Fig. natural benefit in fuel consumption for RT-flex engines at lower loads. as combustion in the part-load range is better and its capability of running at very low speeds. the development only requires by the cams. particularly with respect to power. in the case of the RTA84T engines practical benefits for engine users. At 75 per cent load. July 2004 . ∆BSFC. No changes as outlined above and the new alternative. computer controlled. the consumption curve. All curves shown -8 Delta Tuning are for engines complying with the IMO NOX -10 regulation. 50% 75% 100% [04#103] Load severely restricted by the fixed timing given mechanically of hardware are involved. utilised to reduce fuel consumption in the effective The new step is to introduce a choice of fuel operating range of most engines. speed. This slightly lower BSFC at part load is the Reduced BSFC result of the fuel injection pressure being kept higher at Now the flexibility of the RT-flex system has been those loads with the common-rail injection system. cylinder pressures. 3: The new alternative Standard tuning 2 BSFC curve for Sulzer Delta Tuning RT-flex58T-B engines 0 170 g/kWh given by Delta Tuning compared with the original -2 BSFC curves. All curves -4 shown are for engines complying with the IMO -6 NOX regulation. since 1991. 2: The new alternative BSFC curve for Sulzer -2 RT-flex96C engines given RTA engines -4 by Delta Tuning compared RT-flex engines: with the original BSFC -6 Standard tuning curves. there is a quasi been reported in previous articles in “Marine News”. fuel more accurate to describe Sulzer RT-flex engines as being consumption. standards as with the mechanical-camshaft RTA-type Rather than ‘electronically controlled’. of fuel injection and the exhaust valve operation to be fully At the first stage of development of RT-flex engines. However. being a lower —2— © Wärtsilä Corporation. g/kWh 6 RTA engines RT-flex engines: 4 Fig. improved performance in smokeless operation at all loads. also of variable exhaust valve closing (VEC) The first tangible benefits of the extreme flexibility which further reduces the part-load BSFC. perhaps been highly competitive in fuel consumption right across limited only by the designers’ imagination and the laws the load range owing to the use of variable injection of nature. it would be engines.

Yet. it would be technically software which are freely available from the local Wärtsilä possible to lower BSFC at all engine loads and speeds. offices. however. Delta Tuning involves tailoring the firing pressure to Two BSFC curves as alternatives engine load through adapting injection timing. higher loads. The engine information for RT-flex engines with Delta Tuning will be readily obtainable using the ENSEL engine With the total flexibility offered by the computer.and low-load range. the firing pressure is kept as in both cases. allowing them to choose how and NOX emissions. Lowering the BSFC curve for an to adapt their engines better to individual operating engine is almost inevitably associated with an increase in requirements. selection software and the WinGTD general technical data controlled common-rail system. but then increased at high engine loads (90–100% model’s rating field. Once Delta Tuning is selected. —3— © Wärtsilä Corporation.curve with reduced BSFC throughout the load range up NOX emissions and only the NOX emission penalty for to 90 per cent. are in the needs to comply with the IMO Conclusion NOX regulation and to ensure no diminishing of engine Delta Tuning is a demonstration of the flexibility of the reliability and durability. engine load and speed are varied. be continuously varied so that the engine can – within the software will restrict the engine layout field to the area the physical limits – follow any specified BSFC curve as for which Delta Tuning gives worthwhile results. They give ship increased above 75% load to reach the maximum firing owners and operators the opportunity to choose the BSFC pressure at about 90% load. is only offered for Sulzer The result is that the BSFC is significantly lowered in RT-flex engines whose contracted maximum continuous the mid. and Delta Tuning. all the relevant parameters can button for Delta Tuning. This is because there is a decreasing brings a real benefit to engine users while allowing a margin in NOX emissions against the IMO limit with higher BSFC at full load to enable the engines to comply greater derating. and it yields the greatest benefit close load). injection pressure and exhaust valve timing. July 2004 . the strategy with Delta Tuning is thus regulation. Below 75% load. ratio (firing pressure/compression pressure). It has been achieved by adapted engine achieving a certain BSFC reduction may vary between tuning – termed Delta Tuning. computer-controlled common-rail systems incorporated Owing to the natural laws of physics and chemistry. however. the engines comply with the IMO NOX high as is possible within the limit of the allowable firing regulation. The firing pressure The result of Delta Tuning is a BSFC curve with a is kept as high as possible at 75% load to observe a different emphasis than the original BSFC curve. This emphasis on mid-load reductions in BSFC to the R1 rating point. to accept increases in NOX emissions over a useful wide load range and to compensate with a reduction in NOX Tuning technique emissions at full load. and is two BSFC curves are offered as alternatives. The two key limitations today. Delta Tuning. In both the original tuning individual measures. In both cases. with the IMO NOX regulation. Thus the minimum required margin to the NOX limit. at all loads less than 90% rating (CMCR) is in the upper region of the engine load. commonly referred to as the IMO NOX loads and speeds. the software includes a selection With RT-flex engines. in Sulzer RT-flex engines. Then it is reduced again for curve which best suits their vessels’ operating pattern. the RT-flex engines comply with the As the IMO NOX limit is specified as a weighted NOX regulation of Annex VI of the MARPOL 73/78 average of NOX emissions measured at certain engine convention. It brings a clear benefit to ship there is always a trade off between engine efficiency owners and operators.