Many of us don’t put much thought into the size of the engines that are in our vehicles; let alone how large an engine needs to be to power an airplane or a cargo ship. However, these behemoth pieces of machinery keep the cargo industry operating at the high pace of speed that consumers demand.
Without these enormous engines, the quantity and speed at which goods are shipped around the world would not be possible. This drop in supply would ultimately lead to higher levels of demand and increased prices for consumers. So while it may seem like running and maintaining these monstrous machines is expensive, they actually provide an invaluable service and in a very real way, power the global economy.
The Biggest Cargo Ship Engines
Recently taking the title for the largest engine in existence, the MAN B&W 12S90ME-C Mark 9.2 diesel engine can be found on the Asia-Europe trade route aboard the world’s largest capacity cargo ship. This Goliath engine is not only the largest, but also the most powerful engine with an astonishing 98,000 horsepower. This two-stroke engine towers over its mechanics at a massive 57 feet tall and tips the scales at 4,160,000 pounds. It weighs more than 9 times more than the statue of liberty and is as tall as a 5 story building.
Access doors provide entry to technicians, allowing them to enter the massive, 12 cylinder engine for inspection and cleaning. The turbo-chargers for the enormous cargo ship engine weigh between 3,900 and 7,716 pounds. The crankshaft alone weighs 930,000 pounds and is an astonishing 76 feet long. For such a colossal piece of machinery, the engine oil must be measured by weight rather than gallons. In total, the engine can hold around 35,250 pounds of oil and the cooling system holds about 25,380 pounds of water (that is more than 2000 gallons)! This immense engine can be found on the world’s largest container ships.
The Biggest Airplane Engine
The biggest airplane engine in existence has just started commercial testing. The GE9X turbofan engine will carry the world’s most precious cargo, human life. Designed specifically for the Boeing 777X aircraft, this massive turbofan engine is going to be one of the most fuel efficient aircraft engines to date, with savings of up to 10% less fuel than the current efficiency record holder.
This powerful turbofan engine will produce 100,000 pounds of thrust, and feature new materials including carbon fiber composite fan blades and an 11-stage HPC (High-Pressure Compressor). The enormous engine has also been designed to be more aerodynamic and will create the highest pressure ratio of any other commercial engine at an incredible 27 to 1. All of these factors together will provide increased fuel burn and efficiency.
The GE9X’s fan is a massive 11 feet in diameter. The sixteen composite fiber fan blades are beautifully sculpted and provide the powerful engine with elegance. The material allows the fan blades to be thinner and stronger, and more efficient than any other fan blade produced. GE has also used 3D printing to build some on the engine components that were previously impossible to create. Ceramic matrix composites provide twice the strength without the heavy weight of metal.
The technology used to design and create the GE9X is cutting edge and is likely a glimpse into how we will be designing and building jet engines in the future. If the testing process continues to go well, we may be looking at a new style of engine for both commercial and cargo use. Hundreds of these engines have already been pre-ordered.
The Boeing 777X aircraft that the GE9X has been designed for will be the world’s biggest twin engine jet liner. The plane will feature a massive wingspan of over 235 feet, including hinged wing tips of 12 feet. This aircraft will be able to carry over 400 passengers, at least 34 more than the large Airbus A350. This gargantuan aircraft will make passengers happy with added seat width.
If the massive GE9X is adapted for use on cargo aircraft, a whole new world of faster shipping and lower costs may be available to us in the future.