Ready for more

  • 04-Apr-2012 01:14 EDT

Mark Levett, Vice-President, Cummins High-Horsepower Business

As tightening diesel and gas engine emissions standards across all markets continue to push engine and emissions technology to the limits, Cummins has leveraged its position as a technology leader—and our focus is to make the transition to new emissions standards as easy as possible for our customers.

The rising price of energy is expected to further increase the demand for more fuel-efficient diesel engines and also for natural gas engines—a key focus of our high-horsepower engine development programs. Couple this with the increasing demand for more power, running on various fuels, and the engine industry is faced with a tremendous engineering challenge but also a major opportunity to increase the productivity of equipment for operators.

To meet the changing needs, at Cummins, we have invested in major programs to develop products with customer requirements in mind. 

Nov. 1, 2011, we announced the first of the “hedgehog” engine platform, a new high-horsepower diesel and gas family that will extend up to 5000 hp (3730 kW). We formed a program team in 2008 and ramped up the program staff with over 175 engineers and technicians currently working on the product. The first engine of the program is the QSK95, delivering over 4000 hp (2980 kW) with 16 cylinders, challenging high-speed engines that require 20 cylinders to achieve the same output. This is an exciting new arena for us and opens doors to markets previously unattainable with our current products.

When designing the new high-horsepower engine platform, we took a look at all the design needs to meet customer requirements. We sent teams out into the field and collected over 3000 voices, traveled to six continents visiting customers at all our high-horsepower markets: locomotive, oil and gas, marine, mining, and power generation.

We asked what they needed to be successful in their businesses. We heard: more power per footprint, Tier 4 Final low emissions solutions that are simple and compact, higher uptime, more fuel efficiency, natural gas, just to name a few. We needed to design a diesel and gas engine platform that meets all these needs now and in the future.

These are very demanding design targets. To accomplish these targets, we started from a clean sheet design but incorporated dependable Cummins technology, from turbocharging to electronic controls, fuel system to exhaust aftertreatment, all easily up-scaled for the larger platform with the promise of proven performance. We have been able to optimize the cylinder configurations and the bore/stroke ratio to achieve the optimum power density and footprint for all of our customers and markets.

Another Cummins first for the new family of engines is that is has been designed for natural gas from the inception of the program. New V12, V16, and V20 gas engines will meet the market requirements in the high efficiency power generation markets and the robust gas compression markets. By 2020, nearly 30% of Cummins high-horsepower engine production will be natural gas due to its increasing abundance and low cost. We are putting plans in place now to be ready with reliable and durable products well ahead of the increased demand for gas power.

Tier 4 Final emissions above 751 hp (560 kW) give us an opportunity to once again demonstrate technology leadership both in our new family of engines and in our current range to over 4000 hp.

As the first engine manufacturer to publicly reveal our technology solution to meet U.S. EPA Tier 4 Final for high horsepower, Cummins plan is to make complex emission solutions simple. Our proven selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology will be added for Tier 4 Final. Cummins has over a quarter million smaller engines with SCR technology operating around the world today. Our solution is simple, requires little to no redesign work by replacing the existing exhaust muffler, and most importantly, delivers on the fuel efficiency demand we hear from our customers. Tier 4 Final will deliver 5 to 10% improved fuel efficiency, depending on equipment duty cycle.

Customers are asking for more, whether its horsepower, natural gas, or upcoming emissions hurdles. Engine manufacturers need to listen to customers' changing needs to stay competitive in the future.

Mark Levett, Vice-President, Cummins High-Horsepower Business, wrote this article for SAE Off-Highway Engineering.

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