Birthday celebrations were in the air at SMM 2016 as Rolls-Royce marked 20 successful years of its MTU Series 4000 diesel.

Packed with technical innovations, the MTU Series 4000 engine received accolades when it was presented to international experts for the first time at the SMM trade fair in October 1996. Series 4000 engines were the first of their kind to be fitted with common rail injection as standard and Rolls-Royce claims the design was 10 years ahead of its time. The Series 4000 has gone on to become MTU’s biggest selling engine in production.

Knut Müller, Head of the Marine and Government Business Division at MTU, said: “Even today, 20 years after it was first launched on the market, the advanced design Series 4000 diesel engine and the new gas engine for marine applications which is also based on the Series 4000 engine, are the leading technologies in the marketplace.”

To date, over 37,000 Series 4000 engines have been sold to customers across the world for a wide variety of applications from marine propulsion and energy generation to off-highway vehicles, and have successfully completed over 180 million operating hours.

At SMM, an exhibit was on display that showed the development of the Series 4000 from its origins in marine applications to a modern green and high-tech propulsion system.

Series 4000 diesel engines were developed jointly by MTU Friedrichshafen and Detroit Diesel Corporation for the purpose of expanding their commercial business. The first Series 4000 engine for marine applications was delivered to the Heesen shipyard in 1997. Within the first ten years more than 10,000 type 16V 4000 engines were delivered.

In 2008, the Ironmen engine was launched. This extremely robust and cost effective version of the Series 4000 engine was developed specifically for work boats, with its low fuel consumption and long maintenance intervals playing a major role in creating the company’s strong presence in this market.

The series is based on the principle of a robust basic engine available in a variety of cylinder versions so that it can be used in marine and energy applications, and in off-highway vehicles. When the designers began to develop the technical concept in 1992, the specifications for the new engine were clear: low complexity, long maintenance intervals, low operating costs and a long service life.

With a volume per cylinder of between four and five litres (4.06 – 4.77 litres), the Series 4000 engines were the logical further development of the MTU Series 396 engine. Today, they are available with power outputs extending from 746 to 4,300 kW. Their basic design allows an excellent power-to-weight ratio and compact dimensions.

Common rail injection technology developed by MTU subsidiary L’Orange is incorporated into Series 4000 diesel engines and is now in its fourth generation. MTU claims it had already begun to use common rail technology long before it was introduced into the automotive industry. The common rail system makes it possible to electronically control all the injection parameters that have an influence on the combustion process, regardless of the speed of the engine. Compared with the systems that were previously available, this resulted in a considerably higher injection pressure of 1,400 bar. Today’s fourth generation of this technology achieves 2,200 bar in marine applications. Common rail technology reduces exhaust emissions and fuel consumption and in 1996, the Series 4000 achieved a 10 per cent reduction compared with rival products available at the time.

From 2018, MTU will have engines available that have been further optimised for fuel efficiency and will deliver even more enhanced performance, meeting current environmental requirements and emission regulations. “This shows once again that Rolls-Royce remains true to its guiding principle of designing propulsion solutions that offer customers the greatest possible benefit and meet the highest possible standards,” said Knut Müller.

By Jake Frith