The biggest engine in the world is as tall as a four-storey building

by | May 11, 2022 - 12:53PM | Tech

Wärtsilä RT-flex96C engine being towed by truck

The world’s biggest engine is so massive it almost looks fake when you see a truck hauling the 13.5m (44ft) tall monster out of a warehouse.

In modern cars, when everyone is shifting to small turbo four-cylinder engines, even a V8 seems big.

So just imagine an engine that has 14 cylinders, displacement of 1828.7 liters, and produces 108,920hp (80,800kW).

These numbers aren’t fiction, they’re the specs of the biggest engine in the world – the Wärtsilä RT-flex96C.

READ MORE: V10 motorcycle with a Dodge Viper engine can go faster than a Bugatti Chiron

Turbocharger from the Wärtsilä RT-flex96C engine
Crankshaft from the Wärtsilä RT-flex96C engine
Pistons from the Wärtsilä RT-flex96C engine
Emma Mærsk cargo ship at dock
Wärtsilä RT-flex96C fitted to cargo ship
Wärtsilä RT-flex96C engine being towed by truck
The turbo makes these two engineers look tiny.
This is what the crankshaft looks like, crazy right?
Each piston is absolutely colossal.
The engine powers the Emma Mærsk cargo ship.
You need multiple staircases to get around the engine.
On the back of a truck, the world's biggest engine almost looks fake.
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The turbo makes these two engineers look tiny.
This is what the crankshaft looks like, crazy right?
Each piston is absolutely colossal.
The engine powers the Emma Mærsk cargo ship.
You need multiple staircases to get around the engine.
On the back of a truck, the world's biggest engine almost looks fake.
previous arrow
next arrow

And yes, it comes with multiple staircases just to climb to the different parts of it. That’s what happens when you build something which is nearly four-storeys tall.

If you’re wondering why such a monstrously large engine exists, not least given how it dwarves a truck as if it were a child’s toy, this giant was built in 2006 for cargo ships.

The Danish ship Emma Mærsk was the first to use it – a vessel that can haul 14,770 containers (each of those is 6m/20ft long).

Chuck all those on the scales and it’s 156,907 tons of cargo.

That’s where the engine’s six-digit horsepower comes in handy.

Warning – we’re going to get a bit nerdy here with the stats.

It makes just 102rpm, but it’s the mammoth torque figure that’s most important – an insane 5,608,310 lb-ft (7,603,850Nm).

Naturally, the engine itself is a heavy thing, with the crankshaft alone weighing 300,000 kg (660,000 lbs) and each piston tipping the scales at 5443 kg ( 12,000 lbs).

It burns through 250 tons of diesel in a single day’s use.

To help it make those insane power and torque figures the engine is turbocharged.

The giant turbo makes an average human look like an insect next to it.

While the Emma Mærsk may use the massive 14-cylinder version of the engine, it is a modular design, meaning smaller versions with as few as six cylinders also exist for more normal-sized ships.

It’s exclusively this 14-pot that earns the title of the world’s biggest and most powerful engine, though.

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