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MAN B&W Diesel A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark

Service Experience of the ME Series of Engines
Introduction ........................................................................... 3
The ME Concept .................................................................... 4
Hydraulic Cylinder Unit .......................................................... 7
Hydraulic Power Supply Hydraulic Power Supply Hydraulic Power Supply Hydraulic Power Supply Hydraulic Power Supply ......................................................... 10
Engine Control Unit ............................................................... 12
Service Experience Summary................................................ 13
An Application Example ........................................................ 14
Conclusion ............................................................................. 15
2006 year issue
The introduction of the electronically con-
trolled camshaft-less low speed diesel
engines is proceeding rapidly with many
ME engines ordered and, consequently,
many ME engines entering service. At
the time of writing, nearly 200 ME en-
gines are on order or delivered. This fig-
ure is proving the markets acceptance
of this technology. Of the ME engines,
more than 20 are in service, and they
range from S50ME-C up to the K98ME/
ME-C engines, an example is shown in
Service Experience of the ME Series of Engines
Although the ME technology may seem
brand new to many in the industry,
MAN B&W Diesel has been devoted to
the development of electronically con-
trolled low speed diesels for a long time,
actually since the early 1990s. The first
engine featuring the ME technology is a
6L60MC/ME, the name indicating that
it was originally built as a conventional
MC engine with camshaft, and then
later rebuilt into an ME engine. The ME
version of this engine has now logged
about 30,000 running hours, and it has
throughout this period been used to fine
tune the ME technology.
This paper will describe the service experi-
ence obtained with the commercial ME
and ME-C engines in service.
Fig. 1: General view, 12K98ME installed in a containership
Fig. 2: Engine control system
The ME Concept
The ME engine concept consists of a hydrau-
lic-mechanical system for activation of the fuel
oil injection and the exhaust valves. The ac-
tuators are electronically controlled by a num-
ber of control units forming the engine con-
trol system, see Fig. 2.
The fuel injection is accomplished by so-
called pressure boosters which are me-
chanically simpler than the fuel pumps on
conventional MC engines. The fuel plunger
on the ME engine is driven by a piston actu-
ated with pressurised control oil from an
electronically controlled proportional valve as
the power source. Also, the exhaust valve is
opened hydraulically and closed by an air
spring, as on the MC engine. Similar to the
fuel injection pressure booster, the electroni-
cally controlled exhaust valve actuator is
driven by the pressurised control oil, which,
for the exhaust valve, is fed through an on/
off type control valve.
In the hydraulic loop, see Fig. 3, normal lu-
bricating oil is used as the medium. It is fil-
tered through a 10-micron fine filter and
pressurised by a hydraulic power supply unit
mounted on the engine.
From the hydraulic power supply unit, the
generated servo oil is fed through double
wall piping to the hydraulic cylinder units,
see Fig. 4. There is one such unit per cylin-
der, it consists of the fuel oil pressure
booster, the exhaust valve, and the Fuel In-
jection and Valve Actuation (FIVA), control
valve on, early ME engines ELectronic Valve
Fuel Injection (ELFI), and ELectronic Valve
Actuation (ELVA) control valves.
It has to be realized, that even though an
ME engine is simple to operate, training of
crews in the ME technology is important in
order to ease the understanding, and to
avoid confusion and anxiety that could oth-
erwise occur. To facilitate this MAN B&W
has installed an ME training centre including
a complete ME simulator, so that crews
can get hands-on training in our works in
Copenhagen. Fig. 5 shows the ME simula-
tor in Copenhagen
Fuel 10 bar Hydraulic
cylinder unit
Alpha lubricator
Servo oil
return to sump
Fine aut. filter
Piston cooling
+ bearings
From sump
Main lube
Safety and
EL. driven
hydraulic pumps
Engine driven
hydraulic pumps
Servo oil
Fuel oil pressure
Exhaust valve actuator
Cyl. 1 Cyl. 2 Cyl. 3 Cyl. 4 Cyl. 5 Cyl. 6 CCU CCU CCU CCU CCU CCU
200 bar
Fig. 3: Hydraulic loop of ME engines
Control Room
Service Experience
In general, the operators have reported,
and thus confirmed, the expected ben-
efits of the ME technology, such as lower
SFOC, better balance between cylinders,
better acceleration and crash stop perfor-
mance, and improved dead slow perfor-
mance. Also, the detailed monitoring and
diagnostics of the ME engine provides
easier operation and longer times be-
tween overhauls, and indeed the ME
technology makes it much easier to ad-
just MIP and Pmax. This is done via the
Main Operating Panel (MOP) in the con-
trol room, ref. Fig. 2.
Operators have also found that when
operating in rough weather, there is
less fluctuation in engine rpm compared
with a camshaft engine. Importantly,
owners with ME engines in service for
at longer period of time report savings
in fuel oil consumption in the range of
up to 4%, when comparing with a se-
ries of sister vessels, where one vessel
is propelled by an ME engine, com-
pared to the other vessels in the series
having the camshaft equipped counter-
part type of engines. Apart from the in-
herent better part load fuel oil con-
sumption of an ME engine, one reason
for the reported improved fuel con-
sumption figures is that the ME engine
makes it very easy to always maintain
correct performance parameters.
Fig. 6 demonstrates the cylinder condi-
tion on the first 7S50ME-C after 10,717
running hours, the condition is perfect.
As regards the cylinder condition, in
particular, the observations so far indi-
cate that we can expect an improved
cylinder condition in general, probably
owing to the fact that the fuel injection
at low load is significantly improved,
compared to conventional engines.
Also other engines have been closely
followed up with a view not only to ME
Fig. 4: Hydraulic cylinder units (HCU)
HCUs mounted on a common base plate
High pressure oil inlet
from the HPS
Doubl e wall high
pressure pipe
Fig. 6: 7S50ME-C cylinder condition after 10,717 running hours
Fig. 5.: ME training centre including a complete ME simulator
related parts, but also to check the con-
dition of ordinary components and areas
of interest. Figures 7-9 show pictures
taken on the first 12K98ME engine.
MPC boards.
The ME engine control system consists
of a set of Multi Purpose Controllers, or
MPCs. These are generelly used in
Auxiliary Control Units (ACU), Cylinder
Control Units (CCU), Engine Control
Units (ECU) and Engine Interface Con-
trol Units (EICU), and they are identical
from a hardware point of view. Once
connected in the individual application,
the MPC will adapt to the functionality
Fig. 8: Port inspection shows excellent condition, 12K98ME-C
Fig. 9: Crosshead bearing and main bearing, 12K98ME
Some MPC boards have failed due to
the thermal load on the individual com-
ponents being on the high side and
consequently, their specification has
been upgraded.
Thus our control procedures have been
upgraded and the quality control on the
manufacturer side has been strength-
A few MPC boards failed due to soft-
ware bugs. Parameter changes have
proven difficult on units containing initial
software versions, for which reason the
software has been upgraded.
With a view to securing a long lifetime
of the components in the MPC boards,
we have upgraded the components in
the sense of adopting a higher tem-
perature acceptance range.
Vessels in service have experienced
alarms concerning failure in communi-
cation between the individual MPCs
due to momentarily overload of the net-
work. The overload has not affected
the operation of the engine because of
the redundancy of the system.
An updated software version has solved
the problem.
Fig. 7: General view, 12K98ME
ELFI valves
Securing of internal wiring and damping
of the circuit board has been made due
to poor reliability of original layout.
The improvements have been introduced
on all vessels in service and has perfor-
med well, see Fig. 10.
ELVA valves
Early service experience proved that low
ambient temperatures, as often experi-
enced during shop tests in the winter
season, gave rise to sticking high re-
sponse valves in the ELVA valve due to
low hydraulic oil temperatures.
The diameter of the slide valve was re-
duced in order to obtain correct func-
tioning of the high response valve as
shown in Fig. 11. At sea trial and in ser-
vice with hydraulic oil at normal service
temperature, the problem has not been
Also on the ELVA valves, we have seen
components breaking off due to vibra-
tions, like the resistor shown in Fig. 12.
Fig. 10: Securing of internal wiring and damping
Alarm status
One problem area experienced has
been the too many and often irrelevant
alarms. The originalME control soft-
ware has been haunted by a large
number of irrelevant alarms. In many
cases, the alarms have no importance
for the engine running condition, and
the operating crews cannot do anything
to rectify.
Control programmes and software has
been upgraded and modified to root out
non-relevant information and status
Hydraulic Cylinder Unit
The hydraulic cylinder unit, of which
there is one per cylinder, consists of a
hydraulic oil distributor block with pres-
sure accumulators, exhaust valve ac-
tuator with ELVA control valve and a
fuel oil pressure booster with ELFI con-
trol valve. Each individual HCU is inter-
connected by doublewall piping,
through which the hydraulic oil is led.
The ELVA and ELFI valves were substi-
tuted by one common FIVA valve
shortly after the first ME engines, con-
trolling both exhaust valve activation
and fuel oil injection. The various parts
are equipped with pertaining sensors.
High Response Valve
Fig. 11: Location of the High Response valve in the ELVA valves.
Feed back sensors for exhaust
valve and fuel oil booster.
We have also seen sensor failure due to
oil pressure in plenum chamber, thus a
new reinforced type of sensor has been
introduced. This new type has a one-
piece plastic shield, making it more ro-
bust against oil pressure, see Fig. 13.
The location appears from Fig. 14.
Minimess (Measuring points)
For the purpose of making pressure mea-
surements possible in many locations,
ME engines have so-called minimess
installed in a number of locations.
We have experienced that the minimess
on the HCUs started to leak after rela-
tively few service hours. To avoid this, a
different design of the minimess is used
now and the total number of minimess
is reduced considerably.
The minimess have given rise to other
problems in combination with scheduled
check in service of the accumulator
pressure. During removal of the pressure
testing tool from the minimess such lea-
kage may give rise to dropping N2 pres-
sure, causing damage to the accumu-
lators on the HCUs.
Consequently Locktite has been intro-
duced for mounting of minimess.
Fig. 13: Feedback sensor, previous Feedback sensor, new
Fig. 12: Resistor broken off inside ELVA
damper piston
Outlet lube oil
Air inlet
Inlet lube oil
Contact less
sensor with
Fig. 14: Location of feed back sensors.
Fig. 15: Seal design as doublewall piping
Fig. 16: Previous design indicating location of seals
Double-wall pipes
Problems with hydraulic oil leakages
have been seen during shop tests on
the largest engines because of seal
damage. The main reason for these
problems were caused by lack of qual-
ity from a new subsupplier of these
sealings. In any case it was decided to
upgrade the seal design has, see below
Figures 14,15, 16 and 17.
In the new design, the sealing function
has been devided from the function of
carrying the weight of the piping and
hydraulic oil. The sealing function is now
taken care of by the U-cup sealings,
and the carrying function by the guiding
tapes. Furthermore, a scraper ring has
been introduced in order to ensure reli-
able performance of the outer sealing.
Additional lubrication of the sealings is
permanently present by the low
pressurisation of the outer pipe.
HCU blocks
Some cases of leakage between the
HCU blocks and the accumulators
have been experienced, these have
been rectified by ensuring that the ap-
plied bolts to tighten the accumulators
to the HCU block are of the correct
quality and have been tightened cor-
Regarding accumulators, we have seen
cases of damage to the diaphragms in-
side the accumulators. The damage
caused on the rivet holding the dia-
phragm, and was caused by too low a
nitrogen pressure and/or too large a
fluid discharge.
1. Flange
2. Inner Pipe
3. Outer Pipe
4. Square Seal
5. Square Seal
6. Screw
7. Guiding Pin
Fig. 17: New design separating pipe guide and seal
Hydraulic Power Supply
The hydraulic power supply unit produces
the hydraulic power for the hydraulic
cylinder units. The hydraulic power sup-
ply unit includes both the engine driven
pumps, which supply oil during engine
running, and the electrically driven pumps,
which maintain system pressure when
the engine is at a standstill. The engine
driven pumps are coupled through a gear
drive or a chain drive to the crankshaft,
and are of the electronically controlled
variable displacement type.
The hydraulic power supply system fea-
tures, as standard, a number of engine
driven pumps and electrically driven
start-up pumps. The pumps are axial
piston pumps or swash plate pumps
with the flow controlled by a propor-
tional valve. On some engines, we have
seen initially problems with noise from
these pumps during astern operation.
This has effectively been cured by install-
ing booster pumps securing that cavita-
tion on the suction side of the swash
plate pumps will not occur during
astern running. Fig. 18
Hydraulic pipes
Cases of cracked hydraulic pipes for the
servo oil to the swash plate pumps have
been seen, and investigations have proved
these cracks to occur due to vibra-
tions. To avoid this, the pipe dimension
has been changed and flexible hoses
have been introduced as an extra pre-
Besides this, damage to the double-
wall piping between the aftmost HCU
and the HPS occurred in one case, and
the lower part of the horizontal duoble-
wall piping moved out of its bracket as
a consequence of breakage of the bolts.
This has given rise to re-design of the
double wall pipe connections in this area
to two solid pieces, one attached to
the aftmost HCU, and the other one at-
tached to the HPS. Fig.19.
Fig. 18: Hydraulic power supply
Fig. 19: Flexible hoses between HPS and engine top on a K98
Start-up pump capacities increased to be able to deliver
sufficient start up pressure within 90 sec.
Fig. 20: Initial shaft design
Fig. 21: New shaft assembly with one central bolt
Shafts for engine driven hydraulic pumps
Initially, teething problems have included
breakage of the shafts for the engine
driven hydraulic pumps.
The purpose behind the shaft design is
to set an upper limit to the transferred
torque, so as to safeguard the common
gear in case of damage to a pump;
however the shafts broke due to too
low torque capability.
The design of the shafts has been
changed, in order to increase the mar-
gin against breakage. The initial design
shown in Fig. 20 featured 6 studs and a
frictional connection and the bolts were
sheared at a too low torque.
The new design shown in Fig. 21 has a
centre bolt which tightens together a
frictional connection. No problems have
been experienced with this design.
Besides this we have introduced forced
lubrication of the shaft assembly, to
counteract cases of wear of the splines
for the shaft and gear wheel. Splines are
now hardened also.
Pump end
Gear end
High friction disc
Fig. 22: Gearbox for engine driven hydraulic
pumps (7S50ME-C)
The gearbox
An example of an inspection of the gear
box for thge pump drive, here after
3000h, is shown in Fig. 22 . The condi-
tion of the gearbox was found to be ex-
cellent. The only modification intro-
duced is tip relief on the teeth in order
to prevent initial running in marks.
Engine Control Unit
The engine control units perform the
engine control functions, engine speed,
running modes and start sequence,
and depends totally on a precise tacho
Trigger system
We have seen cases where the pick-ups
for the trigger system of the tacho sys-
tem, were not tightened properly, which
caused malfunction of the trigger sys-
tem. Also the system is rather time
consuming to commission on test bed /
sea trials.
An angle encoder has been introduced
which is easier to install and re-adjust in
case of improper tightening or damage.
Fig. 23 shows the two systems
Fig. 23: New design with angle encoder Initial design with trigger ring
Alpha lubrication system
The ME engine has the advantage of an in-
tegrated Alpha lubrication system which
utilises the hydraulic oil as the medium for
activation of the main piston in the lubrica-
tors, thus a separate pump station and
control are not needed com- pared to the
MC counterpart.
Most of the ME engines in service features
this system and in generel the service expe-
rience has been good, with low cylinder liner
and piston ring wear rates giving promising
expectations regarding long intervals be-
tween overhauls.
On certain engines of the S50ME-C type,
we have experienced a number of teething
troubles in the form of broken lubricator
plungers as well as damage to the main ac-
tivator piston.
In order to alleviate these problems, a re-
vised design of the plungers and main pis-
tons have been introduced to the S50ME-C
Alpha Lubricators.
A new actuator piston with a reinforced disc
without holes and damper has been intro-
duced, together with a new stroke limiter.
The solenoid valve has also been modified
by introducing a damping orifice to reduce
the hydraulic impact, which previously influ-
enced the problems observed.
Additionally, steel spacers have been
mounted below the return spring to remove
the turning effect created from compression
of the spring and hereby affecting the align-
ment of the small plungers.
In case of a low engine room temperature,
it can be difficult to keep the cylinder oil tem-
perature at 45 Celsius in the ME Alpha Lu-
bricator mounted on the hydraulic cylinder
Therefore, we have introduced insulation
and electrical heating of the cylinder oil pipe
from the small tank in the vessel and of the
main cylinder oil pipe on the engine.
Service Experience
The comments presented in this paper
are all based on actual feedback expe-
rience from owners and ship crews.
All issues are addressed continuously
as they occur, so as to control and
eliminate teething troubles immediately.
Some of the very positive feedback that
we have received, by way of state-
ments received from operating crews,
are summarised below in bullet points:
engines of this type allow a consider-
able saving of fuel and cylinder oil,
the electronic control system of the
engine allows supervising of practi-
cally all operating processes, such as:
lubricators management, cylinder oil
consumption control, load distribution
on cylinders, cylinder cut-off in the
event of a malfunction without stop-
page of the main engine,
considerably smaller amount of fuel
deposits from combustion in the
scavenge air boxes and the exhaust
gas economiser are observed,
the system provides wider options for
adjustment of the engine,
in spite of its complexity, the system
is divided by several standard mod-
ules, thereby, allowing the crew to
quickly locate a faulty module ,
no special periodic maintenance is re-
quired for the electronic parts,
the modules design allows easy and
rapid replacement,
the modules and control units of the
system have a built-in central pro-
cessing unit (CPU) that ensures con-
tinues self-monitoring of the technical
condition, and an alarm is given to
the crew in the event of any abnor-
communication between operators at
the three remote control stations, viz
bridge, starboard wing, and engine
control room, and the control units of
the system is effected by means of a
special industrial network that re-
duces the number of wires needed
for data transferring, i.e. reliability is
We take this as proof that the ME en-
gines are gaining momentum in the
market and most certainly do present
operating advantages to their owners
and crews.
An application example
The reference list of ME engines, see Fig.
24 comprises, as mentioned, engines
right from the S50ME-C to the K98ME
and ME-C, in a fairly even distribution
among about 40 owners of tankers,
bulkers and containerships.
One particular application that has at-
tracted much interest, and which has
also a wider development potential, is
that of LNG carriers.
For such vessels, the traditional steam
turbines are now being rapidly replaced
by diesel engines. In the 160 kcum class
vessels this is typically medium speed
dual fuel diesels in a diesel electric con-
figuration, while for the above 200 kcum
class vessels, twin low speed heavy-fuel
burning diesels with boil-off gas
reliquefaction has been selected.
About 50 in total, i.e. more than 20 LNG
carriers in each class, are now on order
with diesel propulsion.
The low speed solutions ordered are all
with 2 x 6 or 7S70ME-C engines in a
twin-screw configuration.
This will allow full redundancy also on the
propeller drive and ensure full mobility of
the vessel at any condition, including long
haul operation. Single engine operation is
permitted thanks to the extended load
diagram of the ME engines as shown in
Fig. 25.
A gas injection dual fuel version of our MC
engine was developed and long time
tested in Japan, starting more than 20
years ago, including full scale SCR NO
removal. However, it failed to gain com-
mercial acceptance due to its mechani-
cal complexity.
Now, marketing of its electronically con-
trolled counterpart, the ME-GI engine, is
in full progress, and for LNG carriers the
proposed configuration comprises both
Line 1: Propeller curve through
matching point (O)
layout curve for engine
Line 2: Heavy propeller curve
fouled hull and heavy seas
Line 3: Speed limit
Line 3: Extended speed limit , provided
torsional vibration conditions permit
Line 4: Torque/speed limit
Line 4: Extended torque /speed limit,
heavy running for emergency
Line 5: Mean effective
pressure limit
Line 6: Increased light running
propeller curve
clean hull and calm weather
layout curve for propeller
Line 7: Power limit for continuous running
Extended heavy
running area
for emergency
Normal load
diagram area
Extended light
running area
80 100 105 85 55 70 75 65 90 95 60
Engine speed, % A
A 100% reference point
M Specified engine MCR
O Matching point
Engine shaft power, % A
4 4
Heavy running
operation for
110 115120
Heavy running
operation for
110 115120
Fig. 25: Extended load diagram
LNG tanks
Clutcher Clutcher
Shaft locking
Shaft locking
Fig. 26: LNG carriers configuration for ME-C/ME-GI
Fig. 24: Reference list as at 6 September 2005
On order/delivered In service
one reliquefaction plant and one gas
compressor, with one serving as a back-
up for the other. This configuration,
shown in Fig. 26, will allow operation on
any ratio of gas and fuel as dictated by
economic and logistics conditions as well
as operators and owners preferences.
The efficiency of the ME-GI engine is the
same as its fuel oil counterpart, excl com-
pressor work, and the NO
is about 25%
Looking further ahead, the ME-GI en-
gines are also feasible for containerships,
with some of the bunker capacity re-
placed by LNG tanks.
This is a concept for a future where LNG
bunker facilities are available, and where
use of fuel oil is more restricted than to-
Total environmental control on low speed
diesels is already practised today in sta-
tionary application.
The plant shown in Fig. 25 is a 40-MW
12K80MC-S heavy fuel burning generator
engine located on Jeju Island in Korea,
and comprises SCR for 90% NO
moval, electrostatic precipitation for par-
ticulate removal, and seawater scrubbers
for SO
The M series, and in particular the ME
series, of engines are thus prepared for a
more restrictive and cleaner future.
Fig. 25: Total emission control system, 40-MW power plant, Buk Cheju, Korea 12K80MC-S
The ME/ME-C engines have had a
succesful introduction in the market,
and they are well accepted.
As with other products containing new
technology, there has been some
teething troubles, most of which have
been eliminated quickly.