History of the development of MAN ME Engines
In the previous article, I have described how propulsion systems developed from paddle and sail to diesel engines. For the next milestone in development in marine propulsion, we have to wait until the ’90s of the 20th century. In 1980 MAN take over Burmeister & Wain. In 1987 first engine programs go to the market. The research and development center was started in 1992 in Teglhomen. MAN MC Engines took the majority of the market. In 2002 MAN has installed the first commercial ME engine onboard the vessel. These days, this was the first diesel engine with full electronic control produced for use at the sea.
Electronic solutions in vessel engines? MAN ME Engines!
These engines are referred to as Intelligent Engines. Apply an electronic control system for hydraulic operated fuel injection and hydraulic operated exhaust valve. This is the biggest difference in comparison to the classic solution with camshaft. Basically, this is the modification of well known slow turning turbodiesel engine, with electronic control of fuel injection and exhaust valves instead of the classic solution with the use of a camshaft.
The main advantages of electronic controlled diesel engines are:
- Well-proven traditional injection pattern,
- High injection pressure at all range of load,
- Adjustable timing of fuel injection and exhaust valve, for performance and ecological reasons,
- Reduced fuel consumption,
- Better characteristics of the engine, faster acceleration, reduction on NOx, and much more…
Control of the MAN ME Engines
The engine control system of the engine is built like on the graphic above. The engine control unit is responsible for the control of the engine. There are 2 control points to keep redundancy. MOP (Main Operation Panels). They are connected to two redundant networks. From this station we can read and set all parameters of the engine, usually, they are located in Engine Control Room. All below-listed units are identical from a hardware point of view. They have installed a different software. However, they can be exchanged with each other if needed.
EICU (Engine interface Control Unit), which is also redundant, is responsible for the communication network between control stations and engine.
ACU (Auxiliary equipment control unit) is responsible to run/activate all auxiliary equipment of the engine, as for example auxiliary blowers.
At each cylinder is build an identical CCU (Cylinder control unit). The cylinder control unit is the electronic board that is responsible for the control of fuel injection, exhaust valve activation, and starting of the air valve.
HCU (Hydraulic Cylinder Unit) is a distribution block. A fast-acting proportional valve is responsible for control the movement of the fuel injection plunger and activation of the electronic exhaust valve. Alpha lubricator is electronic equipment with an inductive sensor, which activates the coil of the solenoid valve for lubrication.
FIVA – Fuel Injection Valve Activation
There is also a module with the hydraulic power supply which is building pressure for high-pressure control oil flow, for FIVA (Fuel Injection Valve Activation) valve, 200bar. The last important part of the system is the Tacho system, which is responsible for delivery signals of speed and shaft position. Is used to detect the direction and speed of an engine. The system is installed double, for redundancy.
Biggest advantages of MAN ME Engine
The biggest advantage of this type of engine is its simplicity. Of course, the knowledge to operate them is a little bit different than the standard engines with camshaft. However today this is the standard solution in shipping. Redundancy of electronic systems, and the possibility to exchange electronic boards which each other is a big advantage. You can replace CCU from one cylinder with another one, You can run without one or even 2 MCU’s! You can exchange backup ACU with CCU and still run the vessel without any issue.
The design gives really a lot of flexibility in troubleshooting. I can share my opinion, only in the electronic and automation scope. For opinions about mechanical parts, you should look at some mechanical engineering blog or specialist. However, with my private experience, there is a well-engineered product. Easy to maintain, very easy in operation and troubleshooting. Basically, every type of alarm that appears on the display, has a complete troubleshooting route. You just have to follow the steps. You don’t even need to open an operation manual for this.
Nothing is perfect in this world…
The biggest problem of these engines from an electronic point of view? A sensitive connection requires proper maintenance. Vibrations of the engine combine with poor quality connections are responsible for electrical noises, fault alarms, and damage of sensors. Properly maintain equipment will work well for a long time, but the crew has to take care properly of it.