High Horsepower Engines Test Cell Design, Construction, and Integration

January 29, 2024

Project Features:
High Horsepower Engine Test Cell, Expansion and Renovation, R&D and Production Test, Custom Engine Carts, Engine Exhaust System with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR)


High horsepower diesel engine test cell

The Challenge

The client, a leading global heavy equipment manufacturer, aimed to enter a new market segment producing a high horsepower engine for ships, rail, and electrical power generation. These engines would be significantly larger than anything in their existing product line. They would also be unique on the market as they’re designed to operate at a higher speed than a typical high horsepower engine. The client wanted to modify and expand the existing space to hold   for mechanical, performance, and production testing. One of their goals was the ability to convert some of the mechanical test cells to production as their business needs shifted from R&D to production. The massive size of the engines (one roughly the size of a grizzly bear and the other a giraffe)  presented many design and logistical challenges, including installing an infrastructure sufficiently robust to meet the test program’s enormous fuel and utility demands. The client’s preference to add capacity to existing utility infrastructure, rather than build a dedicated standalone infrastructure required careful construction and project management to ensure that the facility’s existing operations weren’t disturbed.

The Solution

ACS led the design, construction management, and commissioning of 12 new test cells, integrating technical equipment and overseeing the construction process. The team skillfully crafted mechanical test cells, designed with adaptability for seamless conversion into production test cells when required. Additionally, they undertook the design and construction of dedicated production and performance test cells. Due to the substantial scale of the engines, the client sought a logistical solution for rapid Unit Under Test (UUT) turnover in production cells. ACS engineers devised an engine cart serving two roles: transportation and centralized connections to the engine test cell. The engine cart facilitates the DAQ and power connections between the UUT and the dynamometer riser. The team also engineered two match plates to manage combustion, air, engine exhaust, oil, and various electrical connections. The team’s innovative design enables test personnel to set up and move the engines through the production test cells in minutes. Another client requisite was a fuel system that accommodates three different gaseous fuels (natural gas, propane, and nitrogen). Different tests required different fuel blends, and the ACS engineers produced a fuel system able to handle different fuel combinations within tight tolerances,

Infrastructure and Utilities

The infrastructure and utilities expansion involved integrating assembly areas and constructing test cells within the facility. The expansion includes a dedicated mechanical room with upgraded electrical service, cooling towers, and tower pumps circulating cooling water to the cells. One notable challenge was designing 16 acoustic doors with sufficient clearance for the engines and engine carts. Because of the ducting above the test cells and that the engine’s Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system mounted externally on top of the engine s, maneuvering the engine and cart through doors demanded precise dimensions. ACS completely overhauled the company’s fuel farm, introducing massive double-walled fuel tanks designed and constructed to facilitate both house and specialty diesel distribution. The primary tank, dedicated to house diesel, boasts a substantial capacity of up to 100,000 gallons. Subsequently, three smaller specialty fuel tanks, each holding between 10,000 and 25,000 gallons, were added.

The Outcome

The ACS team executed the five-year-long project in three contiguous phases. The engine cart and match plate designs simplify the workflow for test personnel at all the test cells. They also meet the client demand for swift UUT turnover at the production test cells so the manufacturer can meet its production goals. The client decided towards the project’s end to focus primarily on power generation engines, rather than ship and rail. As a result, the ACS team was tasked with quickly expanding the constructed space for Alternating Current (AC) regenerative dynamometer testing. ACS negotiated with the local electric utility to enable the client to redirect surplus power generated by the AC regenerative dynamometer testing, significantly reducing the overall utility expenses for the program. When both AC regenerative dynos operate simultaneously, the client can harness enough electricity to power all facility operations, tests, and manufacturing. This strategic collaboration demonstrated ACS’ commitment to sustainable energy practices and efficient resource utilization within the facility, The entire construction project was completed on the equipment manufacturer’s aggressive timeline to get to market. This includes integrating the additional test capabilities and converting one of the mechanical test cells to a production test cell by the project’s end. The client has since returned to ACS to convert more of the original mechanical test cells to production units, reflecting the company’s success in the new market and validating the ACS design to accommodate the manufacturer’s future needs.

Key Features

  • Custom engine carts, some of which are air motor operated, engine docking, and exhaust systems designed and constructed for engines between 11- and 13-feet long x 5’4”wide x 7.3” tall
  • New mechanical room with new electrical service, cooling towers, and tower pumps for circulating cooling water to the test cells
  • Engine exhaust system with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to clean the exhaust before entering the atmosphere
  • Dual airflow metering systems managing substantial air intake into high horsepower engines with precision

ACS Services

  • Full turnkey delivery of design, construction, and commissioning of 12 high horsepower engine test cells and engine carts
  • Integrating and commissioning of energy center systems and mechanical systems installed in each test cell
  • Project and construction management
  • Negotiations with local utilities