The most powerful engine in the world develops 114,800 hp

Designed to move container ships, the Wärtsilä RT-flex96C is simply the most powerful engine in the world. With its impressive size and incredible strength, it is not surprising that it equips one of the largest ships in the world.

Dimensions of the order of gigantism

No, the most powerful man-made engine does not power a car or truck. It equips ships, the very first of which is the Emma Mærsk, which was commissioned in 2006. This container ship almost 400 meters long is owned by the Danish shipowner AP Møller-Mærsk. However, this is a giant of the seas with a maximum speed of 31 knots (57.4 km/h), while most container ships have a speed of “only” 20 knots (37 km/h). On the transport side, this ship can transport as many as 11,000 containers.

Emma Mærsk gets this exceptional speed from its wonderful engine: the Wärtsilä RT-flex96C. Simply the most powerful in the world, this turbocharged two-stroke diesel engine develops no less than 109,000 hp (80.08 MW) in its largest version (14 cylinders). It is therefore logical that this engine also has very impressive dimensions: 13.5 meters high and 27.3 meters wide for a weight of 2,300 T.

Wärtsilä RT-flex96C engine
The Wärtsilä RT-flex96C has been the most powerful diesel engine in the world since 2006.
Credit: Swam Power/Facebook

Improved power since

The Wärtsilä-Sulzer 14RT-flex96C engine is designed based on an older engine of the same brand, the Sulzer RTA96C. However, it incorporates a technology that was very recent for the time: common rail fuel injection. This technology replaced the traditional camshaft, timing chain, fuel pump and hydraulic drives. Furthermore, the 14-cylinder version has undergone improvements that have made it possible to power of 114,800 hp (84.42MW).

“The fully electronically controlled Wärtsilä RT-flex common rail system of the 14-cylinder engine offers ship owners significant advantages. It offers unparalleled flexibility in engine operation, resulting in smoke-free operation at all working speeds, lower fuel consumption, lower maintenance costs and lower stable working speeds for better manoeuvrability. The RT-flex system also has the potential to adapt to future needs.” the manufacturer explained in a 2006 press release.

To this day, the Wärtsilä-Sulzer 14RT-flex96C remains the largest diesel engine in the world that humans have ever built, and this about fifteen years after its appearance. Here’s the monster in action: