Published on MHI Graph (April 2012 Issue)
INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY[ ENVIRONMENT ]
The True Significance and Ongoing Evolution
Modern civilization has evolved at a rapid pace since the beginning of the 20th century. A key factor behind this was the invention of the engine, a new device that powered vehicles and manufacturing machinery. Engines also form the core of generators that produce electricity. Even now, engines continue to evolve as the driving force in support of a comfortable society and manufacturing activities. In 1917, MHI became the first Japanese company to develop and build a diesel engine, and since then has steadfastly pioneered technologies for the reciprocating engine(note) . MHI offers a broad lineup, ranging from construction machinery and marine engines to engines for power generation. In recent years, the company has been involved in the general development of advanced gas turbines, rocket engines, and other types of internal combustion engines, even as it continues to look at the true significance and its decades-long quest to further refine the reciprocating engine.
The reciprocating (piston) engine is now so widely used that it literally powers every aspect of modern society. For example, it is used in cars and cruise ships as a means for transportation; in machinery that supports construction and agriculture; in forklift trucks that handle cargo; in generators for factories and buildings; and in power generation systems, which supply the electricity necessary to support daily life in a designated area. MHI is one of the very few companies involved in the production of all these engines(note) . MHI's impressive product range and technological flexibility allow it to meet all client requests, whether they concern mass-produced small engines or the modular production of mid- and large-sized engines that still encompass detailed customer-tailored specifications.
Three gas engine cogeneration (Note) plants (18KU30GA [5,750kW]) were installed at the Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. (Yokohama Plant). These engines are well suited for heavy-duty power generation with their high efficiency, high reliability, and low emission. The power they generate operates the production line, and the surplus power is sent out to the grid. Hot water and steam from the waste heat of the power generation process are used in such facilities for example as bottle washing. (Yokohama Plant, Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd., Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan)
MHI has the ideal environment for supporting engine quality. Since its R&D centers are located within the individual works, the production facilities can promptly submit feedback. With its own verification test facilities at the works as well, it is possible to perform trial and error from a user perspective, revealing issues that would be undetectable in purely theoretical simulations. All these play important roles in bringing engines ever closer to perfection. In addition, MHI works in cooperation with R&D centers that store all its information and product technology. MHI's engine development also benefits tremendously from surroundings that foster the sharing of the most recent component and engine technologies related to a variety of engines. This provides a huge advantage in the development of groundbreaking engines.
MHI is a leading Japanese engine maker, producing a worldwide total of 650,000 engines of about 60 different types (with a combined output of some 20 million horsepower) per year. Its engines are designed for heavy oil, diesel fuel, gas, and gasoline, and one of the company's distinguishing features is its ability to provide clients with construction proposals for a wide range of engine-centric systems, including power cogeneration systems and ship propulsion systems. In order to ensure a rapid response to local needs, improve engineering support, and reduce procurement and freight costs, MHI continues to expand its production, sales and customer service bases in North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as licensing local manufacturers in foreign countries. MHI is flexible enough to tailor its business models to suit different local conditions, while still striving for quick and competitive delivery of products of the same high quality as those manufactured at its own Japanese plants to the global market.
Armed with its long history of manufacturing engines, MHI was one of the first to tackle the problem of improving the engine's environmental performance. Increased fuel efficiency needs and the progressive tightening of regulations concerning exhaust gas and CO2, NOX, and particulate matter (PM) have created rising demand for engines that can meet these new challenges. As specialists in environmental technologies, MHI has therefore developed and manufactured the UEC Eco-Engine. This engine complies with the IMO's NOX regulations (Note1) and realizes the world's highest level of fuel efficiency. As exhaust gas regulations grow stricter, resulting in more injection systems becoming electronic, MHI has adopted mechanical injection systems for the SR series and other EPA Marine Tier 3-compliant engines (Note2), in response to market demand. These mechanical systems are easily dealt with onsite, and also clear stricter emission regulations. The world's strictest emission regulations for industrial machinery engines, EPA Tier 4 (Note2), were just recently implemented. MHI has already developed an engine (D04EG) designed to comply with these regulations, and is now accepting orders and manufacturing these engines. MHI plans to accelerate its development of more advanced environment-conscious engines in the future.
Power shortages are a serious problem for many developing countries. Demand for dispersed power generation systems that can provide a steady power supply is increasing in countries where various geographical or financial factors make it difficult to build large-scale power stations. MHI's supply of power generation systems fitted with engines is growing steadily in these countries due to their outstanding efficiency and reliability. Like companies in developing countries, following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, companies in Japan also came to appreciate the value of engine-driven power generation systems that can provide a stable power supply. Faced with urgent installation requests, MHI has pulled out all the stops to shorten the delivery period by standardizing engines. For example, it has managed to reduce the delivery period for a 5,000kW-class power generation plant from about 1 year to 5 months. It is also advancing the development of 1,500kW-class products whose on-site installation can be completed in a much shorter time frame. It is hoped that this sort of speedy responsiveness will be put to good use in future regeneration support projects.
Countries with shale gas resources, such as the U.S., are now showing a keen interest in dispersed generators that use cheap and plentiful gas. The emergence of this new energy resource is expected to further increase opportunities for engines.
Faced with such diversification of demand, MHI possesses the infrastructure to provide optimized solutions thanks to its product range, technological capabilities, and intra-group synergies. Almost a century has passed since it developed its first engine. MHI now intends to pursue more engine possibilities as the driving force of society, using its extensive experience to improve engine reliability and by intensifying its spirit of innovation in technologies.