You are on page 1of 10



Cylinder lubrication of two-stroke
crosshead marine diesel engines
A U T H O R : O l e C h r i s t e n s e n , G e n e r a l M a n a g e r, C y l i n d e r L u b r i c a t i o n , R & D Tw o - s t r o k e P r o g r a m s & Te c h n o l o g i e s ,
Wärtsilä Industrial Operations

The two-stroke crosshead diesel
engine has, for many years, been
the preferred prime mover for larger
seagoing merchant vessels. This
article discusses means of improving
piston running and reducing cylinder
oil consumption in these engines.

There are a number of reasons for the
success of the two-stroke crosshead
diesel engine in marine applications:
■ It provides a speed and torque
that exactly meets the demand
of the propeller, i.e. no
intermediate gear is needed.
■ It is easy to maintain.
■ It is – still today – by far the most Fig. 1 – Cross section of
efficient stand-alone working machine. Wärtsilä RT-flex82C.
■ It can operate on heavy fuel oil, which
is basically a residual from the crude oil
refinery process, and hence much less
expensive than refined oil products.

The challenge posed by fuel
Compared with “lighter” diesel fuels,
heavy fuel oil (HFO) has a relatively high
viscosity. It also contains a number of
substances and components that can be
harmful to both the engine and the
environment if their maximum allowed
contents are exceeded, or if not treated
However, residual marine fuels are
categorised in international standards,
and all marine engine designers have their
recommendations as to which types of
fuels can be applied in a particular engine,
and how these fuels shall be treated and
conditioned before entering the engine.
Every time a vessel bunkers fuel, the
ship’s chief engineer is given a bunker
certificate with a chemical analysis and
information about the fuel’s viscosity and
density. From this he can see whether or not
the fuel is in compliance with the engine Fig. 2 – Wärtsilä 7RT-flex82C on test bed.

in detail 39

Geneva. 991 kg/m3 (ISO-F-RMH700). 15 Total sediment. They are sulphur cannot be prevented from entering extremely hard and. point of view. methods. a homogeneous blend with no added substance or chemical waste (ISO8217:2005–5–1). 4.8% (of mass). it is most important numerous challenges to the machinery that the centrifuges and filters in the vessel’s on board. dimensioned and properly working at and particularly from a piston running all times.iso. 22 ISO 10370 max. fines” or simply “cat fines”. 0.2 Flash point [°C] min. 0. therefore. can cause severe damage to the fuel Sulphur is an excellent lubricant for injection system. as well as to the piston the moving parts in the fuel injection Table 1. The average sulphur content in HFO ■ The natural sulphur content. there are two major “enemies” Crude oil has a natural sulphur content.5 ISO 8754/14596 max. *2) Limited to max. worldwide is around 2. 0. they combustion space. also known as “catalytic is occasionally bunkered. 0. on board fuel treatment plant are correctly From an engine reliability point of view. and how rings and cylinder liners. In some HFO bunker lots. the on board fuel treatment plant needs To safeguard the engine against such cat to be adjusted. potential [m/m (%)] max. 0. when the engine is operated on HFO: which will remain in the heavier fractions ■ Catalyst particles from of refinery products such as marine diesel the refining process fuels.10 Water [v/v (%)] max. marine diesel (as Al and Si equivalents) in marine diesel engines must be capable of operating on fuels has been set as an international the whole range of diesel fuels. [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] designer’s 1010 *2) ISO 3675/12185 max. RMK700 Density at 15 C [kg/m3] max. 22 Sulphur [m/m (%)] max. 4. 60 ISO 2719 min. 30 ISO 3016 max.5%. either at the oil refineries or on These catalyst particles consist mainly board ship. 60 Pour point [°C] max. to separate the sulphur from of aluminium and silicon oxides typically marine diesel fuels.15 Vanadium [mg/kg (ppm)] max. from the Today there are no economically viable refining process can be extraordinarily high. Switzerland (www. This means that the ranging in size from 10 to 20 μm. This creates standard. If the engine’s fuel injection system and they are allowed to enter the engine.5 ISO 3733 max. – The fuel shall be free from used lube oil. 1010 Kinematic viscosity at 2 – 13–17 [mm /s (cSt)] ISO 3104 50 C 700 – Garbon residue [m/m (%)] max. and to the engines themselves. – Wärtsilä fuel recommendations.5 Ash [m/m (%)] max. 40 in detail . but HFO with a sulphur content of up to 4. abrasive.15 ISO 6245 max.10 ISO 10307-2 max. 600 ISO 14597/IP501/470 max. if the fuel treatment plant (Alcap centrifuge) cannot remove water from high density fuel oil (excludes RMK grades). 600 Sodium [mg/kg (ppm)] – AAS max. fine damage. However. 30 Remark: *1) ISO standards can be obtained from the ISO Central Secretariat. 0. Parameter Unit Bunker limit Test method Required fuel quality ISO 8217: 2005 *1) Engine inlet class F. catalytic particles. 80 ISO 10478/IP501/470 max. the content of which is also the allowed upper limit. 30 Aluminium plus Silicon [mg/kg (ppm)] max. the allowed maximum content For environmental reasons.

depending on engine size and make: In the four-stroke trunk piston engine. since it cannot be eliminated before rings. back to the engine’s oil pan. and ends up in the combustion space. In the two-stroke crosshead engine. In other lubricating the cylinder liners and piston The two-stroke crosshead engine case words. i. separate cylinder Normally. However.e. as can be Cylinder lubrication oil is supplied by an external. Fig. However. an oil scraper will see later on. *1) in detail 41 . combination with water it creates sulphuric are a number of different methods for acid.5 g/kWh combustion process. seen in Figure 1. A small amount of the cylinder the piston has no oil scraper ring and the ■ Neutralise sulphuric acid in lubricating oil by-passes the piston rings cylinder oil is not recycled and reused. as mentioned above. where the oil with. there of lubricating oil. from where engine size and make – usually supplied it is drained. is supplied from the piston side ring on the piston scraping the surplus oil ■ “Outer lubrication”. in In four-stroke trunk piston engines. modern. well lubricating device via quills in the cylinder maintained four-stroke trunk piston diesel liner. where the back to the oil pan. the it is virtually “lost”. the cylinder liner and piston rings. prevent metal to metal contact between lubrication and cooling purposes. However. once it has left the lubricating device ■ Clean the cylinder liner. and hence cylinder the following purposes: the cylinder lubricating oil is identical lubrication differs considerably from ■ Create and maintain an oil film to to the engine system oil used for bearing the four-stroke trunk piston engine. the two-stroke crosshead For marine diesel engines operating on separate cylinder lubricating device engine has no connection between the residual fuels containing sulphur. the entering the engine. which is highly corrosive. with the oil pan. from an external. to prevent malfunction and damage has an oil scraper ring that scrapes most The cylinder lubricating oil in a two- caused by combustion and of the oil supplied to the cylinder liner stroke crosshead engine is – regardless of neutralisation residues. it must be dealt with ■ Splash from the revolving crankshaft cylinder liner is virtually “over-lubricated” and controlled by other measures. 3 – Example of on board fuel treatment plant. and where it is “consumed”. a large. which means that particularly the piston ring pack. piston underside space and the bedplate lubrication must generally serve In a four-stroke trunk piston engine.3 to 0. cleaned and recycled. WÄRTSILÄ TECHNICAL JOURNAL 02. order to control corrosion. as we ■ “Inner lubrication”. piston in a four-stroke trunk piston engine the dosage of cylinder oil is crucial.2010 system and has no negative impact on the The four-stroke trunk piston engine case engine will consume some 0. cylinder from the cylinder liner side.

which are used for neutralising the sulphuric acid. ■ Base Number (BN) The BN corresponds to the content of alkaline additives. ■ Detergent additives The ability to clean the cylinder liner and piston ring pack and minimise deposit formation. but when operating for longer periods on fuels with a lower sulphur content. BN50 or BN40) is recommended. When operating on fuels containing 1. the separation between the piston underside space and the bed plate with the oil pan allows the use of special cylinder lubricating oils. which the four-stroke trunk piston engine does not have. BN70 oil is normally used.5 to 4. tailored for the cylinder condition and the fuel used. the cylinder lubricating oil dosage is vitally important in a two-stroke crosshead engine. 5 – Pulse lubricating system. Dosage As mentioned above. 4 – CLU3 system. a lower BN (BN60. [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] Fig. The Fig. Two-stroke cylinder lubricating oil is mainly characterised by: ■ Viscosity grade Normally SAE50. Special two-stroke cylinder lubricating oil In the two-stroke crosshead engine. challenge is to make the oil properly and 42 in detail .5% of sulphur. This provides a certain flexibility.

and a so-called progressive distributor for each cylinder unit with L a number of quills with a small spring loaded membrane accumulator. 6 – CLU4 pump.2010 efficiently fulfil its tasks before it is “lost”. and partly to the piston underside space as sludge. The pump piston is RTA engine and – most importantly – driven by servo oil. for exhaust gas emission and environmental impact reasons. WÄRTSILÄ TECHNICAL JOURNAL 02. which is pressurised to should facilitate lower cylinder lubricating 50 bar. positive system. the pump piston delivers a Development work for a new cylinder fixed. CLU3 was the standard cylinder lubricating oil dosage system on Wärtsilä two-stroke crosshead engines. The successor product should displacement device. the pump piston returns to Lubricating System (PLS) were introduced. the PLS are mounted in the upper third of in detail 43 . and when the 4/2 solenoid valve oil consumption. The multi-element pump unit supplies the cylinder lubricating oil to the progressive distributors. but normally requires Servo oil out (T) a cylinder lubricating oil feed rate in Lubricating oil in (L) the range of 1. but should also be corresponding to the number of quills in applicable to the conventional Wärtsilä the cylinder liner. with a number of fit into the concept of the electronically independent cylinder lubricating oil outlets controlled engine. system. Lubricating oil out (A) Due to the increasing price of cylinder lubricating oil. and when the pressure inside the cylinder at the quill level. The CLU3 system was developed in co-operation with the German company Vogel (today SKF). pre-defined amount of cylinder lubricating oil dosage pump was again lubricating oil to each quill in the cylinder carried out in co-operation with Vogel. For more than 20 years. and the pump is on stand-by for further comprises a 50 bar servo oil the next delivery stroke. As in the CLU3 system. partly to the combustion space where it is A burned. the cylinder lubricating The PLS comprises one CLU4 pump oil chambers are re-filled from the gravity and 6 to 8 quills per cylinder unit. When the 4/2 solenoid valve is and in 2006 the CLU4 pump and Pulse de-activated. and by varying the rotational speed of the driving electric motor. The oil is accumulated in the quills. which is normally located in the upper third of the cylinder liner. ensuring equal distribution of the oil to each individual quill. robust and Servo oil in (P) very reliable. liner.0 to 1. the oil is released by the spring force of the membrane accumulator. but the release of the oil is P not timed. The CLU3 system is simple. which actuates the CLU4 pumps. The CLU3 system releases a small amount of oil to the cylinder liner in each engine cycle. It tank. there has been a need to find a successor to the CLU3 The CLU4 pump is a hydraulic. its starting point.6 g/kWh. following the introduction of the Wärtsilä RT-flex engine concept. It consists of a multi- element pump unit driven by an electric motor. and Fig. is T sufficiently low. the quills of and a control system. The feed rate is controlled by disc settings in the multi-element pump unit. is activated.

the first execution a running surface of 8. All of these phenomena neutralization and cleaning processes. and each pump stroke. speed and crankshaft delicate balance between under. which might be prevented from moving is substantially below the CLU3 level. therefore. but also liner running surface. A correct delivers a fixed. the cylinder cylinder oil either into the piston ring pack oil dosage pump delivers 310 mm3 to or directly to the cylinder liner running each quill per stroke. revealed a injects every 2 to 5 engine revolutions. pre-defined amount of viscosity is important in order to ensure cylinder lubricating oil to each quill with the spreadability of the cylinder oil.7 to 0. the loss of superior in terms of flexibility. however. Each cylinder liner has 8 System was the so-called Pulse Jet.and over- position. known as “scuffing”. Distribution the cylinder liner running surface Once the dosage pump has delivered the structure might over time become cylinder lubricating oil via the quills in the closed and smooth like a mirror. might eventually result in scuffing. calculates the necessary injection ■ Under-lubrication If too little frequency. This is sometimes a proper distribution of the oil on called “chemical bore polish”. and was expected to provide safe on the engine load and the applied and reliable operation. when alkaline deposit build-up on the The challenge is not only to ensure piston top land from excessive cylinder that the oil film on the cylinder liner oil is in contact with the cylinder wall is well maintained. metal The Pulse Lubricating System with the to metal contact. the dosage pump Service experience. the Wärtsilä 84T engine In attempting to achieve the best possible has a bore of 84 cm and a stroke of 315 cm. rate. and depending surface. The Pulse Jet principle was then means of a very small amount of oil. Furthermore. (rotating) in their grooves by the so- called “hydraulic lock”. This injection time is in the range The vertical distribution of the cylinder of 8–10 ms. starvation frequency is once each engine revolution. and cylinder line to the piston ring pack. The cylinder lubricating oil into the piston ring cylinder oil is injected into the piston ring pack when the piston rings pass the quill pack during the piston’s upward stroke. the injection of cylinder lubrication oil must be distributed both vertically and oil is independent of the pressure in the horizontally? cylinder. and the cylinder liner running surface. it is possible to inject the during their reciprocating movement. the CLU4 pump injection are important here. particularly on the 96C running surface has to be maintained by engines. but thanks to the CLU4 How is this possible when the cylinder pump. quills equally distributed at the same The Pulse Jet quill could deliver the level 900 mm from the top.e. and the piston rings rate in the range of 0. and thus a timed injection is oil is mainly performed by the piston rings possible. residues. and it fresh. will occur which might result in and the cylinder lubricating oil is always corrosion. The control system the applied feed rate and injected amount continuously measures and calculates the of oil per stroke are key factors in the actual engine load. CLU4 pump has proven to be as robust ■ Over-lubrication If too much and reliable as the CLU3 system. but is cylinder oil is supplied. has of the cylinder oil. as well as the amount of oil per As mentioned above. accumulated contamination injected during the upward stroke of from unburned fuel and combustion the piston. the will no longer be able to retain the key to success is to facilitate and ensure lubricating oil. cylinder oil feed rate. unused oil in the scavenge ports facilitates a cylinder lubrication oil feed will be high.9 g/kWh. i. replaced by the so-called Pulse Feed 44 in detail . and based on the requested feed lubrication: rate.3 m² to be of the quill for the Pulse Lubricating lubricated. level. The maximum injection cylinder oil is supplied. it can cause continuously refreshed in order to what is sometimes called “mechanical provide sufficient additives for the acid bore polish”. horizontal or circumferential distribution Each cylinder liner. For example. a very large cylinder liner scuffing incidents. number of piston running problems and Consequently. and in the worst case. which is the basic philosophy of and factors such as oil viscosity and feed the PLS. [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] the cylinder liner.

Initially the cylinder liner just had outlets from the quills. WÄRTSILÄ TECHNICAL JOURNAL 02. 8 – Pulse Feed principle with and without “zig-zag” distribution groove. the groove makes a short circuit and the pressure difference transports the oil concentrated at the quill outlet towards the groove. As the piston passes the “zig-zag” groove. and Second ring consequently the so-called “zig-zag” groove between the quills was introduced.2010 Fig. 7 – Pulse Jet principle. 9 – Function of the “zig-zag” distribution groove. The “zig-zag” groove principle has proven to work very well after it was retro-fitted to a high number of large bore cylinder liners Fig. but soon it Top ring became obvious that some additional aid was needed to achieve a proper horizontal Pressure low distribution of the cylinder oil. Fig. here too there were Piston Pressure high problems. which had shown good performance on engines where the old CLU3 systems had been retro-fitted with the PLS. in detail 45 . Nevertheless. principle.

10 – Example of good condition.2 g/kWh.000 USD/year 46 in detail .8 engine is highly empirical. In is standard in all Wärtsilä two-stroke but at the end of the day it is up to the parallel. which can be installed on all new engines. systems.000. This system measures the temperature in two diametrically opposite positions near the running surface in the upper part of each cylinder liner. Example: A 6500 TEU container vessel has a 12-cylinder Wärtsilä RTA96C main engine with a MCR power of 63. The idea of the RPLS Surveillance Today some vessels have the means to was to offer an upgrade of the old CLU3 Today’s two-stroke cylinder lubricating measure the BN and iron content of the based system to a modern CLU4 based systems are essentially pure feed-forward oil in the piston underside space.2 x 0. have become extremely relevant. and was installed on were substantially reduced. in service.e. and system on engines already in service. With its introduction. comprehensive PLS became the standard cylinder running problems and scuffing incidents instructions with recommendations for lubricating system. when the CLU4 cylinder oil dosage pump and the Pulse Lubricating System were introduced. the cylinder lubrication underside inspections. and the average cylinder lubricating oil feed rate is 1. and today it handling various situations are available.000 = 295 tons/year ■ One metric ton of cylinder lubricating oils cost approximately 1750 USD. of the actual piston running condition. System (RPLS). The alarm alerts the engine crew only. and is not applied in the cylinder lubrication control system. ship owners and operators are focusing on their operational costs. It uses a CLU3 cylinder lubricating system. but also retro-fitted to engines already in service. Based on inspected through the scavenge ports. however. and most recommended – way to keep With the specific cylinder lubricating oil and to enable the control system to react the piston running condition under consumption reduced from 1.2 / 1. It then filters and interprets the development of the temperatures. The main engine operates 6000 hours per year at an average load of 65% of MCR. where cylinder become: of a two-stroke crosshead marine diesel liners. new buildings from May 2006 on.8 g/kWh. Economical and environmental aspects More than ever before.65 x 6000 x 1. it became Fig. [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] system. the best – cylinder lubricating oil cost reductions.000 USD/year In 2006. and in case the temperature level escalates. down to approximately 0. intelligently in case something is wrong. possible to substantially reduce the cylinder oil feed rate. i. chief engineer and his crew to monitor introduced the Retrofit Pulse Lubricating the situation and react accordingly. and cylinder lubricating oil costs Fig. 11 – Example of poor condition. there are no sensors in the thereby get an indication of the piston This offered the potential for significant cylinder liners to inform the control system running condition.8 g/kWh. However. pistons and piston rings are visually ■ CLO consumption = 295 / 1.2 to 0.000 x 0. ■ CLO consumption = 63. known as the MAPEX = 345. surveillance is to carry out regular piston the figures from the above example now Consequently. = 197 tons/year thousands of running hours and numerous Wärtsilä offers a piston running ■ CLO operational cost = 197 x 1750 inspections of different engines. piston test beds and in service.000 kW. both on surveillance system. Wärtsilä developed and cylinder liners. meaning: CLO operational cost = 295 x 1750 = 516. a “high friction alarm” is generated.

on the cylinder liner running surface oil dosage pump is currently being As can be seen. to the benefit The focus areas are: For the upcoming 35 and 40 bore of both RPLS customers and the ■ Distribution and refreshment of the oil Wärtsilä RT-flex engines. fitted to some 150 engines. conditions. Wärtsilä RTX4 . low load over longer periods of time extended time between overhauls. 12 – Test rig for lubricating Fig. on the cylinder liner running surface. there will be a continuous the umbrella of HERCULES BETA. ■ Influence of engine operation at very fulfil the demands for dynamics and 100 tons less harmful emissions per year. legislation. Outlook The outcome of the above mentioned Because of constantly changing boundary focus areas is expected in the short to conditions. where the main focus areas are: cylinder oil consumption. and partly areas with high ambient humidity lubricating oil into the piston ring pack as sludge from the piston underside space.for this particular engine . On the slightly towards higher ratings. the applied hardware and component side. specifications of longer term perspective . ■ Development of sensors and methods Fig. not only about liner surface temperature (up to 350 ºC). will be double acting in order to This means . which has been named lubricating oil being consumed per year. Wärtsilä has studies of the lubricating oil film developed and tested some very promising between a piston ring segment and tools and methods for assessing the cylinder liner segment under various performance of cylinder lubricating systems. the feed rate reduction ■ Influence of the fuel’s sulphur content developed in co-operation with SKF.2010 Thus the annual savings would be: but also about the cylinder lubricating oil. injection timing and thus a low feed rate. such as contact pressure. a number of activities are ongoing on September 2006.000 – 345. WÄRTSILÄ TECHNICAL JOURNAL 02. and market involved in a number of activities under prices in general. ■ Development of a test rig for intensive During recent years. commissioned and entered into service on help us to support the oil companies in a 12-cylinder Wärtsilä RTA96C engine in their development of new and improved Also. for dynamic cylinder lubricating ■ CLO consumption = 295 – 197 These tools and methods are today oil film thickness measurements on = 98 tons intensively applied for improving and the Wärtsilä RTX4 test engine. and they ■ Development of a mathematical model 516. Furthermore. the cylinder lubricating systems themselves. ■ CLO operational cost = optimising our current systems. need for understanding and improving a joint development project funded by piston running as well as for reducing EU.000 USD will be huge assets in the development for advanced simulation of lubricating The first RPLS installation was of future systems. in detail 47 . 13 – Instrumented piston for oil film studies. From this we have gained a lot of new piston ring speed (up to 15 m/s) and knowledge and experience. performance CLU5. ■ Investigation of the stress level of the oil within 3–4 ms in order to ensure correct which must be removed and incinerated. This results in almost 100 tons less of cylinder on the cylinder lubricating oil’s new dosage pump. and partly as gases and particulates to the ■ Influence of engine operation in will be capable of delivering the cylinder atmosphere from the funnel. a new cylinder environment. Since then it has been formulations of cylinder lubricating oils.000 = 171. they will oil film behaviour. Wärtsilä is fuels and lubricants. such as engine specifications medium term range.

4 Volumetric feed pump with defined flow for Feed pipes ‡i = 16 mm. but System concept was studied at Wärtsilä. prerequisite for our development work is lubricate” the cylinder liner.5 mm Feed system for inner lubrication through piston skirt Distributor grooves Test engine 4RTX-3 6 feeding bores in 1 pressure retaining valve piston skirt Control unit Electro magnetic valve and mechanical bypass Cyl. where an oil engine can be operated on a test bed for supply from the piston side might be a considerable number of hours within a advantageous. not for a large bore. 6 feeding bores ‡ 1. at least a commercially applicable level. when it on some good results from applying an oil comes to the testing and validation of new scraper ring in the piston ring pack on a components and systems. the four-stroke trunk piston engines. each cylinder length = 6–7 m Electric motor with variable speed. clean it. This will of and operators. multi cylinder one. and Testing and validation in service is very whether or not it is viable remains to be often both a time consuming and slow demonstrated. and then collect the surplus which requires good relations with owners oil. must be carried out in service. it has been decided to take reasonable budget. and low specific oil consumption level as on modern advanced computer simulation Fig. tools are becoming more and more precise Fig. apply an oil to have access to a number of vessels. scraper ring. Based on this. because it requires thousands of patent is pending. i. [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] [ MARINE / IN DETAIL ] Some years ago. and and this is particularly the case. 3 valve. the two-stroke world is in the meantime we still need to rely on and a prototype was developed and tested quite different from the four-stroke world. 15 – Inner Lubrication System. The aim is to increase running hours. an Inner Lubrication Closing remarks and useful in complement to field tests. A slightly more ambitious idea is to Therefore. full-scale measurements on board ship. but this would not be this concept up again and develop it to the case for a two-stroke engine. to “over. In many ways. course be a radical change of concept. but an outline exists and a process. A four-stroke Wärtsilä RTA96C engine. 14 – CLU5. and recycle it. with positive results.e. Cyl. 48 in detail . most testing and validation of apply the four-stroke trunk piston engine new two-stroke components and systems cylinder lubrication concept to the two. In many cases it would be scuffing resistance and to achieve the same desirable to accelerate this process. and a stroke crosshead engine.