Which is the Most Efficient Ship Engine in the World?

Over the past few years, rapid innovation in marine propulsion has occurred as a direct result of the growing need for ships that are both reliable and cost-effective to operate. As nations’ stocks of natural resources and consumer products run short, they are becoming more reliant on a dependable transportation industry to facilitate international commerce.

Consequently, new marine propulsion engines have been developed over the past several years that are designed to be more powerful and efficient.

Wärtsilä- 31 DF, regarded as the most powerful engine in the world.
Image Credits: Wärtsilä

Engines that deploy an enormous amount of horsepower are what propel the world’s largest ships. These contemporary ship engines may differ in construction and function, but they all deliver the physical force that is required to propel gigantic vessels through monstrous waves.

The Wärtsilä 31DF dual-fuel engine, designed by the Finnish engine manufacturer Wärtsilä, is now regarded as the world’s most powerful ship engine. However, it does not compare to the company’s mammoth record-breaking RTA96-C, in terms of size.

The RTA96-C is 44 feet high and 87 feet long and has a horsepower of 110,000, whereas the Wärtsilä 31DF measures 15.4 feet heightwise and 28.8 feet lengthwise, with a horsepower of 13,142. The latter is primarily intended for medium-sized ferries and cruise ships.

Manufacturing company Of the World’s Most Powerful Ship Engine

Those who have an interest in maritime machinery would not want to miss the opportunity to check out the Wärtsilä production setup in Finland. The next time you’re in Finland, be sure to include it on your must-see list. The manufacturing team at Wärtsilä is responsible for the creation of some of the most remarkable and powerful engines that have ever been produced.

Over the course of its history, Wärtsilä has established itself as the industry pioneer in the development of novel technology and maritime automotive solutions. Research and innovation in environmentally friendly practices and technologies are given a substantial amount of priority at Wärtsilä.

The centre results of Wärtsilä incorporate advancements for the energy area, including gas, multi-fuel, fluid fuel, and biofuel power plants and energy stockpiling systems; innovations for the marine area, including voyage ships, ships, fishing vessels, vendor ships, naval force ships, extraordinary vessels, pulls, yachts and seaward vessels.

Transport plan capacities incorporate ships, pulls, and boats for the fishing, trader, seaward, and extraordinary segments. Service contributions include internet-based administrations, submerged administrations, turbocharger administrations, and other benefits for the marine, energy, and oil and gas markets. By the end of June 2018, the organization had over 19,000 specialists.

Wärtsilä is a company that is traded on the Nasdaq Helsinki exchange and had over 4.8 million Euros in net sales in 2021. Additionally, Wärtsilä is active in the markets of hybrid solutions, energy storage and optimization technologies, as well as future-fuel enabled balancing power plants.

Wärtsilä 31Df – The most efficient ship engine

The 31Df was introduced by Wärtsilä in 2015. The latest upgrade of the same model increased the output range to 4.6 – 12 MW from the previous, 4.2 – 11 MW. The upgraded output range has been achieved with the 600 kW/cylinder at 750 rpm and 580 kW/cylinder at 720 rpm. The upgrade also lowered greenhouse gas emissions by near about 750 tons per annum.

Along with that, Wärtsilä 31 DF, also meets the IMO Tier 3 regulations when operating on gas and with SCR when using diesel fuel. Reliability is guaranteed through validation and Wärtsilä’s vast manufacturing experience, supported by its extensive global services network.

Efficiency of the Most Powerful Ship engine

Three models with different functionalities are available to choose from. Customers can either opt for the diesel version, the natural gas-driven one or the dual-engine. The former uses high-quality fuel and an advanced injection system along with valve timing.

RTA96-C delivers 0.278 pounds per horsepower-hour compared to the 0.271 pounds of the diesel version. Hence, recording a difference of 2.6 per cent in the efficiency. Though it may seem a mere difference, in reality, it is a huge difference. It translates to 85,000 pounds of oil being saved in a day, in the case of 31DF.

Taking all these features into consideration, Wärtsilä has another entry in the Guinness Book of Records, after RTA96-C, for the world’s most efficient 4-stroke diesel engine. Wärtsilä 31DF also has a low level of exhaust gas emissions which adds to the sustainability factor.

Designed for fuel efficiency, easy operability and enormous future possibilities.
Image Credits: Wärtsilä

As of 2020, over 100 Wärtsilä 31DF engines have already been sold with more than 60,000 field operating hours. When it comes to maintenance, the upgraded Wartsila 31 wins hands, as it does not require much upkeep.

The engine is designed in such a manner, that it can be taken out and replaced without much effort. It can act as a propulsion engine and also contains diesel-electric configurations as an auxiliary engine. It can be customized to operate either at a constant speed or along a propeller curve.

What makes the Wärtsilä 31Df so special?

Energy efficiency– Consumes on normal 8-10g/kWh less fuel contrasted to the nearest contender across its whole range.

Fuel flexibility– The Wärtsilä 31 can use a diverse range of energy supplies including bunker fuel, distillate marine diesel, natural gas, ethane and liquified petroleum gas.

Cost-effective– The cost of overall maintenance decreases by twenty percent.

Low maintenance– Provides more amenability. The first support stop comes after 7,000 hours contrasted with 950 hours for conventional motors of similar configuration and features. The accessibility of the trade modules guarantees short margin time for upkeep.

Easy to Operate– Completely functional, all over the place. The double fuel motor empowers a simple change to gas while transforming to the third-tier region with no adjustment of speed. It can undoubtedly be adjusted for various working profiles and has numerous future possibilities.

Lesser emissions– Altogether, it produces fewer carbon and sulphur emissions and adheres to the International Maritime Organisation’s environmental guidelines, which were implemented in 2016.

Future prospects of the most efficient ship engine

The modular external and internal designs of this engine don’t just work with instant fixes, it additionally upholds the upgrades for the distant future. The manufacturer Wärtsilä Corporation has the sole objective of making it highly adaptable to future requirements.

With technological advancements, whenever a new technology is being developed by the company, it can be easily upgraded by installing a module that holds all the updates. Eventually, this will be convenient for the ship owners to tackle future amendments in the maritime sector. For instance, this will be especially helpful when new emission guidelines are presented, yet may likewise apply to future fuel types.

This product has been designed in such a way that it can adapt to any future circumstances. Due to its flexible design and use of common technologies on the different variants, the engine can be converted from one variant to another with only minor mechanical changes.


In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards the utilization of renewable and alternative energy sources for the purpose of fueling engines. This development has occurred in conjunction with governments’ efforts to reduce pollution in the maritime sector.

The Wärtsilä 31DF engine launched for energy markets is a step closer to realizing Wärtsilä’s vision of a 100 per cent renewable energy future, thanks to its decreased environmental footprint and operational flexibility.

When each of these qualities and essential considerations is taken into account, the Wartsila 31DF emerges as the most efficient engine in the world. Even though there is a possibility that some other engines could overtake Wartsila 31DF, as the most popular choice in the future, the firm that makes it will continue to innovate and will maintain its position as the market leader.

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