Fishing for efficiency
Today's diesels strive to be reliable, environmentally friendly fuel misers
By Michael Crowley
It should be obvious to anyone who spends time on boats that the engines developed in the past few years are more reliable, more efficient and better for the environment than their predecessors. Indeed, some might speculate that the development of the marine diesel has come about as far as it can in terms of fuel economy and reduced emissions.
Further improvements — and there will be some to meet new emission requirements pushing for a 90 percent reduction in particulate matter and an 80 percent reduction in nitrous oxides — will be add-ons involving things outside of the engine, like particulate traps, catalytic converters and recirculating exhaust gases.
The need to devote time and money to meeting future emission standards is part of the reason that some engine manufacturers, like Caterpillar and MTU, that are usually represented here are absent. A bigger part of the reason may be that builders of larger displacement engines are jammed up with orders for propulsion engines and power-generation units from Asia and Eastern Europe as well as this country's tug, pushboat and oil-patch industry.
Demand is so tight for new engines that some workboat outfits are buying new engines and storing them, in anticipation of building new boats. If you want some models of 1,500 hp and over, you'll wait until 2010. That means that developing new engine models isn't the most pressing concern for some companies. In fact, you may well find fewer large displacement engines available in the next few years.
That said, in 2008 there are still plenty of new engine models to choose from, starting with a company that's been reorganized and has had a name change.
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