Italian Engines Fitting Nicely into U.S. Gensets

Issue 9 and Volume 110.

Steve Blankinship, Associate Editor

Iveco Motors of North America, based in Carol Stream, Ill., is a unit of Fiat Powertrain Technologies and entered the market in January 2004 with one distributor. Since then, the company’s operations have grown to include 22 distributors and more than 300 dealers across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. John Madey, product manager for Iveco Motors’ North American business recently addressed questions posed to him by Power Engineering.

PE: You’re part of Fiat, which makes us think of on-road applications. Talk about your stationary power products.

IVECO Motors’ Vector 12 engine.
Click here to enlarge image

Madey: Our European roots are in the truck market. But we have been offering generator drive motors for many years in Europe and we are bringing that business to North America. Our present offerings that are certified to meet all current and currently projected future U.S. emission standards range from about 60 kW to about 730 kW, and we expect to eventually have engines available as big as 1.5 MW. That’s probably a couple of years down the road. We also have a line of non EPA certified products starting at 33kW.

PE: So you make engines only, not gensets?

Madey: For the North American market, yes. The gen drive engines we offer in the North American market have a radiator, air cleaner, muffler and most of the wiring needed to be matched with any generator on the market. The back end is standard so you just hook it to a generator on a skid and provide an enclosure and a control panel.

PE: The North American genset and engine market is already a pretty crowded place. What do you bring to the mix?

Madey: One of the biggest things we bring to the U.S. market is fuel efficiency. We are known for it in Europe and it’s part of the company’s European heritage. Europeans have been living with high fuel prices a lot longer than we have. We achieve efficiency, noise attenuation and power density through some very sophisticated engineering, but not with any technology that isn’t needed.

PE: Meaning what?

Madey: Meaning Iveco Motors’ philosophy is not to add technology for technology’s sake. With our smaller engines, we have mechanical fuel systems available, whereas some of our competitors are going 100 percent electronic fuel systems. We continue to make mechanical fuel systems dedicated to the power generation market and don’t believe in forcing high-tech for an application when it’s not necessary. Electronic fuel systems are much more appropriate for larger engines. We use a mechanical injection pump on the smaller power engines, but it’s a very sophisticated mechanical injection pump. It’s very cost-effective.

PE: Who are your customers?

Madey: We have OEMs such as MQ Power and Lynx Power but many of our engines are going to people who integrate them into gensets and resell them. These are mostly custom gensets. For example, we have a distributor in New York City who recently provided gensets for the Department of Homeland Security that had some special requirements that could not be met by commercially available packages. He was able to deliver exactly what was needed by using Iveco Motors’ engines.

PE: The custom genset market represents a lot of your business?

Madey: Yes it does. For example, we also do a lot of business with the Amish communities. They like to have their own power generation and be off the grid. And they appreciate the fuel efficiency.

PE: Describe a typical integrator.

Madey: These integrators tend to be very specialized companies. They can work on a local or regional scale and range in size from several hundred square feet to multiple manufacturing facilities. They will receive a request for a quote from a customer telling them just what they want. Then, based upon their experience, they will build the package to meet the customer’s needs. These packages can be for standby power or prime power. Our distributor in New York has done some combined heat and power packages using our engines too. One of his current projects will use four of our 400 kW Cursor 13s at a site where the engines will always parallel together and also provide some heat to the building.

PE: As more gensets are being deployed in non-traditional spots such as retail stores, small commercial and even residential buildings, what do you offer to address space and noise issues?

Madey: One of the site benefits of efficient combustion is low noise. Our engines are very quiet. Europe has very stringent standards for how much noise engines can make, so all of our engines are designed to meet low noise regulations. In the case of the Cursor family of engines, a bedplate construction is used, meaning the entire bottom of the crankcase is stiffened up by attaching the main bearing caps to the side rails, which then attach to the block. And as a result, the bottom of the crankcase acts a lot less like a speaker. With our NEF and Cursor engines we have technologies like rear gear trains, where the gear noise is buried underneath the heavy iron flywheel housing and the block and not up in the front of the engine under a thin sheet metal cover. So there’s been a lot of attention paid to noise control on these engines. So far as their size, they have a very good power density. They are very competitive in size relative to the power they produce.

PE: Where are your gen drive engines made?

Madey: The NEF and Vector engines are made in Torino, Italy. The Cursor engines are made in Bourbon Lancy, France. To support our North American market, we have a spare parts distribution warehouse, located in Springfield, Missouri, and over 300 service centers across North America.

PE: Describe the engines you have available to the genset market.

Madey: The NEF engines come in 4- and 6-cylinder power plants with displacements ranging from 4.5 to 6.7 liters. The Cursors are 6-cylinder engines ranging from 8.7 to 12.9 liters. And the Vector engines come in 6-cylinder, V-8 and V-12 configurations going up to 20.1 liters. We also continue to produce our 8000 series in 3-cylinder and 4-cylinder versions for non emissions certified applications.

PE: Are your engines diesel or gas-fired?

Madey: Primarily diesel but there is a natural gas version of the NEF engine and eventually many of our diesel engines will have a natural gas version.

PE: Can you cite some applications for your engines?

Madey: Iveco Motors’ engines were used to pump water out of sub-basements in New York City following the 9/11 attacks. In addition, six gensets ranging from 100 to 125 kW, powered by Iveco Motors’ 6-cylinder engines, were deployed at the World Trade Center site where they operated constantly for more than six months. More recently, one of our distributors supplied nine gensets equipped with Iveco Motors’ engines ranging from 75 kW to 200 kW to a Connecticut company that specializes in drying out floodwaters. The sets were sent to Alabama and Louisiana to help dry out areas flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

More recently still, an electrical contractor used gensets using our engines to provide back-up power needed to renovate the J. Pierpont Morgan estate into a library. With New York City’s tight boundaries and low noise requirements, installing a power unit was going to be quite difficult. The electrical contractor heard of customized gensets that would meet their needs. They turned to Rudox, an Iveco Motors’ distributor, who supplied them with a generator fitted with the 8281SRI27 Iveco Motors’ engine that produces 400 kW. This generator is the only back-up power for the library and after the refurbishment is completed, the generator will be used for on-site power. Rudox also supplied a permanent generator with our 8210SRI28 for refurbishment of the Sherry Netherland Hotel in New York City. The 350 kW genset was disassembled into four pieces – the radiator, the generator, engine and skid base – and individually transported down the freight elevator and reassembled in the basement.