Maintenance Tip of the Week: White Smoke 12/14/2015

Maintenance Tip of the Week – White Smoke 12/14/2015

Smoke is always a leading indicator of engine problems, normally fuel or combustion related. With the current emissions standards that require compliance from Marinediesel, you should never see smoke coming from your exhaust. That said, what does white smoke indicate?

1. Bad fuel quality (most common)

2. Problems with combustion

As to bad fuel quality, the first step should be to check the filtration and see what is causing the problem. Fuel treatment or enhanced filtration may solve the issue.

Regarding combustion, there are many causes: Pump failure, air filtration or exhaust pressure issue, clogged injectors, changes made to the ECU, worn gaskets or damaged manifolds.

If the fuel quality is good, then the presence of white smoke indicates that major service is absolutely necessary.

Diesel engines are greener than electric engines? In some cases, yes!


There has been a lot of recent publicity regarding the development of electric vehicles, and in addition, electric propulsion for marine use. Much of what is said highlights the reduced emissions from electric propulsion. It is true: electric engines can be cleaner than diesel or other petroleum engines. However, the media usually neglect an important fact, and that is that electric engines need to be charged somehow. That somehow usually means connecting to the power grid. Depending on where the engine is used, the carbon footprint of that electric engine can be much higher than that of an equivalent diesel engine. In regions where the bulk of electricity is produced by coal or other dirty fuels, that electric engine actually produces up to four times the amount of CO2 as a modern diesel engine.

The diesel fuel in 2015 is not the same as your grandfather’s diesel fuel. Modern diesel fuel is cleaner than ever before. All diesel emissions from vehicle use can be minimized and controlled, depending on the emission type. Right now, in the EU, there is some controversy regarding the fact that even though the introduction of ULSD reduced SOX emissions, there was an increase in particulate matter emissions (PM) and NOX emissions. However, PM can easily be reduced by filtration, and NOX can be reduced by the use of a SCR.

When compared to the use of electric propulsion, on the surface it can seem that the electric engine will produce fewer emissions at lower cost. Yet, when you compare the emissions and cost of charging, with the lower efficiency of electric engines (they are typically larger and heavier than diesels, with lower power output), the advantages of electric become less clear and straightforward. One additional problem that electric engines for marine use have faced is the limited range (electric cars don’t have the same issue as much on land): Limited range means limited places to charge. This fact has restricted the use of electrical engines to hybrids or coastal use.

MarineDiesel is in compliance with all emissions regulations in the EU and North America. Our engines can be used in regions with the strictest emissions standards and regulations (like the polar regions). Our research and development team are constantly modifying and improving the fuel efficiency of our engines, and reducing the emissions they produce.

If you want to learn more, there is an interesting discussion of the subject at





1,768,000 Kilograms



1,768,000 Kilograms.

That weight is the equivalent of:

  1. 3 times the weight of Christ the Redeemer, the famous statue in Rio de Janeiro.
  2. 1/5 the weight of the Eiffel Tower.
  3. 11.5 times the weight of the average single family home.
  4. 17 times the weight of an adult blue whale.
  5. The weight of the CO2 produced by a MarineDiesel VGT350 engine over the course of its’ lifespan.

There is a lot of discussion in the media regarding CO2 as a greenhouse gas. CO2 is a product of the combustion process, and as such, is one of the emissions that cause environmental concern. Unfortunately, CO2 is extremely difficult to prevent or eliminate from emissions.


Diesel fuel is roughly comprised of 82.6% carbon. Since combustion requires air, oxygen is forced into the combustion chamber of the cylinder and it combines with carbon to form CO2.

CO2 is not regulated in the same manner as other emissions. Where required, carbon trading or other taxation schemes are used. However, this does not give engine makers a “free pass” regarding CO2. Efficiencies in turbocharging, electronic engine controls, and fuel efficiency also play a part in reducing carbon emissions. Scrubbing systems are becoming more compact and less expensive, and it will be several more years before the technology is applicable to smaller engines, but change will happen.

Given the fuel economy of Marinediesel’s VGT Series of engines, consumers are making a smaller carbon footprint by choosing the most efficient engine available in its’ class.




55.74 Kilograms



55.74 Kilograms.

That weight equals:

  1. The weight of an average adult octopus.
  2. 1.3 times the weight of a toilet.
  3. 2/3 of the weight of an adult kangaroo.
  4. 1/4 the weight of a cubic meter of snow.
  5. 4.5 times the weight of a gold bar.
  6. The amount of SOX produced by a MarineDiesel VGT350 over its’ lifespan, using Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel.

SOX is regulated by the EPA in the United States and the EU in Europe. It is regulated because it is a component of acid rain. However, SOX is a different type of emission. Whereas NOX and Co2 are products of the combustion process, and, therefore, produced by the engine, SOX is a product of the fuel itself, and must be refined out of the fuel prior to combustion.

Today, nearly all diesel fuel sold in North America and Europe is Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel, ULSD. No controversy, right? Wrong. The controversy typically arises from the fact that the refining process required for ULSD makes the fuel far more expensive. As we covered a couple of days ago in our posting, 670,000 Liters, small changes in the price of fuel or the amount of fuel consumed have enormous impact on the bottom line. Naturally, the tradeoff is in emissions, and making a cleaner product.

The MarineDiesel VGT Series has been rated to consume ULSD fuel. When the engines burn ULSD, the power and performance is what you expect, and the amount of SOX produced is in full compliance with regulations.






4,257 Kilograms



4,257 Kilograms.

This weight is equivalent to:

  1. 1.1 times the average weight of an adult hippopotamus.
  2. 0.7 times the weight of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
  3. 2 times the weight of an adult rhinocerous.
  4. Over 4 times the weight of a MarineDiesel VGT350 marine engine.
  5. The amount of NOX emissions produced under Tier III requirements by a VGT350 engine over its’ lifespan.


NOX is one of the emissions regulated by the EPA and the EU. Why? Mostly, this regulation is due to the impact that NOX has in the formation of Acid Rain, when it enters the atmosphere. Even the greenest engines are required to produce no amount of NOX over this amount. Since emissions are gasses, when putting the impact of emissions into something that is easily identifiable will help quantify the environmental impact of engine operation, no matter how green that engine may be.

Buyers of MarineDiesel engines can rest assured that the engines they are purchasing are fully compliant with all EU and EPA requirements for emissions. Certificates are available upon request for any current or potential MarineDiesel customers.





What is Common Rail?



If you read the marketing material put out by MarineDiesel or other engine manufacturers, you are likely to encounter the term “common rail” when the engines are described.

What exactly does common rail mean?

First off, all Marinediesel engines are common rail engines. There are a number of reasons behind this design, but mostly related to both efficiency and the need to comply with emissions regulations.

Common rail engines feature a fuel injection system that features all injectors connected along a single, high pressure (up to 30,000 psi) fuel line, controlled by the engine’s electronic system (ECU).

Older engines had the injectors fed individually at a continuous rate via a cam and though the timing was precise, it was not variable.

The electronic control of fuel supply and pressure provides better atomization of the fuel for combustion, resulting in lower emissions, reduced noise, and optimized engine efficiency with reduced fuel consumption.

Hence the virtual requirement for modern diesel engines to be designed using common rail fuel systems.

Of course, the drawback to common rail engines is that these increased pressures require extra vigilance in maintaining the maintenance schedules as required in your engine’s manual (whether for a MarineDiesel engine or the engine of any other manufacturer).



Lubricicity and ULSD. A Problem?



Emissions regulations in most of Europe and North America have mandated the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (“ULSD”) in diesel engines. How does this requirement impact the operation of your diesel engine?

All modern diesel engines are designed to use ULSD without any problems. The problems arise in older engines that may still be in operation.

First off, ULSD is diesel that is refined to include no more than 15 ppm of sulfur. When the fuel is refined, other contaminants and components of fuel are also removed. ULSD is, therefore, refined to a much higher degree than the older versions of diesel that often had 1,000 ppm or more of sulfur. This additional refining, of course, results in a higher fuel cost.

Why is sulfur considered “bad” from an emissions standpoint? Quite simply, sulfur, when combined with water vapor, forms sulfuric acid, a primary component of acid rain. This sulfuric acid also impacts the performance of your engine. Excessive sulfur can score and pit the inside of cylinder walls.

So, on older mechanical engines, how could they burn high sulphur fuel without any damage?

The answer is a question of the lubricicity of the fuel.

When the ULSD is refined, not just the sulfur is removed. Carbon and other contaminants are also removed. In older fuel grades, these “contaminants” performed an important function in lubricating the pistons and cylinders. Now that these components are removed by statute, older engines sometimes experience higher wear and tear when using ULSD. This wear and tear is not as pronounced on common rail engines that were designed to used ULSD.

So, if you are using an older engine, what can you do? The answer is that the lubricicity of the fuel needs to be replaced, through fuel additives. This is where caution comes in. The additive chosen must be certified to replace the lubricicity without adding contaminants to the fuel system or leading to incomplete combustion.



EPA Emissions Certificate – VGT Series



We occasionally get asked about emissions compliance, and some customers require copies of the various certificates. All MarineDiesel engines are Tier III compliant, and we expect Tier IV emissions compliance by the end of first quarter, 2015. (Testing complete, waiting on issuance).

Additional certificates are available on request from other agencies / entities, but the US EPA certificate is the one most commonly requested. It is pictured below for reference.



5 Reasons to Re-Power your Boat



Engines lose performance as they age. Either from heavy use, environmental conditions, or even through the lack of use. Cylinders can become grooved, seals and gaskets become worn, and the engine is no longer providing the performance it once gave. This situation is not only with marine engines. Though marine engines operate under much harsher conditions than industrial engines or engines in land vehicles, those engines eventually also wear out and need replacement. This article is not so much related to replacing worn out engines. The rebuild versus re-power argument usually comes down to cost, and sometimes feasibility (Engines can only be rebuilt so many times).

What if you have an engine that is still functioning? Are there reasons to consider re-powering before the end of that life cycle?


Here are five reasons:

  1. Fuel Efficiency: We were recently involved in a project that was asking us to perform a cost / benefit analysis on re-powering some vehicles equipped with some old Cummins engines. Though these engines still operated, and were quite fuel efficient when they were manufactured (around 1990), re-powering with modern, MarineDiesel engines could save the customer almost 20% in fuel savings over the course of one year. Technology changes, and engines have become far more efficient in the last 20 years. Even though rebuilding the existing engines would be cheaper, the fuel savings over the long term more than make up for the additional acquisition cost.
  2. Emissions:  Emissions regulations have become extremely strict, especially in North America, Europe, and the Polar regions. Old engines were manufactured under different emissions regulations. What was once compliant is now non-compliant.
  3. Performance: As engine efficiency has increased, engines are now lighter and more powerful than ever. New engines nearly always show increases in vessel performance over rebuilt old engines.
  4. Vibration and Noise: As engines wear, they tend to vibrate more, offering a reduced life cycle over time. Additionally, the standards for vibration and, particularly, noise have changed over time. Modern engines are far quieter and produce less vibration than rebuilt engines.
  5. Cost of Maintenance: Every time an engine is rebuilt, a little of the life cycle goes with it. Though engines can be rebuilt to a very high degree of competence, they are still older engines with a significant level of use. Maintenance expenses will always increase. Perhaps not by much, but they will increase nonetheless. Add in the fact that, on average, the cost of rebuilding an engine averages 60% of its’ cost new. Extra maintenance expenses can quickly close the gap between new / rebuilt.





Engine Management System Development



MD Engineering is a division of MD Group that comprises of three divisions with fields ranging from engineering to powertrain supply and marine propulsion engines. Applications – MD Engineering together with MD Powertrain work in a vast field with a wide array of specialized applications such as automotive and truck industries, engine manufacturers, industrial applications and a field of specialty custom applications. Together MD Group can take responsibility not only for engineering activities but if required also product supply and field support as required by the customer.

Engine Testing:

MD ENGINEERING hosts three engine dynos in its test facility, with each test cell having its own unique measurement range and options. This provides us a great span in terms of engine size and application to better meet our client’s requirements and specifications. All cells are equipped with high frequency, multi-channel data logging.

TEST CELL A – Measurement range:

• 0-700 kW (1000 – 6000 rpm)

• 0-3,000 Nm (1000 – 6000 rpm)

TEST CELL B – Measurement range:

• 0-700 kW (1000 – 6000 rpm)

• 0-3,000 Nm (2500 – 6000 rpm)

TEST CELL C – Measurement range:

• 0-2,100 kW (1000 – 4000 rpm)

• 0-15,000 Nm (700 – 4000 rpm)

MD Engineering has been involved in complete engine control systems in a multitude of areas, some areas where we have deep knowledge and long experience:

Apart from pure engine control development, MD Engineering is a comprehensive service provider, delivering solutions from single components, multi-part mechanism based drive train systems through fully-engineered powertrains. We offer a breadth of expertise and high-class facilities to an ever growing customer base to support the development of powertrain technologies. Our industry-leading engineers and technicians ensure that test and product development programs produce the accurate, repeatable and representative results you demand. Drawing on extensive OEM engineering experience, our engineering team is able to design, release, prototype and production release almost any powertrain component into a range of diverse applications. One of our test cells is equipped and capable of performing steady-state emissions testing on most engine applications to further meet the stringent emissions requirements. With our emissions equipment we can measure raw exhausts and diesel particulates.


Equipped for Emissions testing.

Emission bench for raw exhaust measurements AVL CEBII

Exhaust component: Measurement range:

NOx 0-1500 ppm

HC 0-48000 ppm

CO low 50 – 2500 ppm

CO high 0-5%

CO2 1-20%

CO2 EGR 1-20%

Diesel Particulate measurement equipment Pegasor M-sensor (for calibration)

Measuring principle: Measurement range:

ION current 1ugm3 – 250 ugm3

Diesel Particulate measurement equipment MICRO-PPS dilution tunnel


Emissions testing

• Control safety systems

• Torque management and control

• Air system diagnostics (MAF, EGR, Swirl)

• EOBD and OBDII controls and diagnostics

• Engine thermal management control and diagnostics

• After treatment systems control and diagnostics

• Stop/start control

• Boost system control for a wide variety of hardware setups:

Single wastegate turbo and by-pass turbo

Two-stage turbocharging


Twin turbo

VNT turbo

Access to our extensive test facilities on-site enables full test and validation and ensures OEM standards of robustness and durability.

Our engineers and product analysis experts can take a wide client brief for comparative benchmark and cross product comparison. This includes all aspects of the process from virtual analysis, desktop studies, static and dynamic repeatable test scenarios to full product teardown, measurement reporting and recommendations.

MD Engineering has vast experience in other powertrain areas such as:

• Engine test and development

• Engine calibration

• Engine benchmarking

• Engine validation and durability

• Gaseous fuel engine calibration

• Gaseous fuel engine development and validation

• Up to 15,000 Nm torque

• Exhaust emissions and fuel consumption development

• Advanced propulsion, charging and fueling

• Program management

• Engine and components analysis – Fatigue, vibration,

life cycle and durability.


• Torque or speed based fuel controller

• Ability to run Wastegate, VGT or twin turbo

• Integrated EGR controller

• J1939 communication with DM services

• GMLAN and NMEA2000

• Software ready for engine ranging from 2 cylinder

up to 8 cylinder

• After treatment compatible up to Euro VI level

• Ability to change and make new software functions within

the NIRA i7r platform

Engine Calibration MD Engineering

• Base engine calibration

• Transient calibration

• Emission calibration

Three steady state test cells for engine calibration and emissions test.