Emissions and Performance Upgrades

Marine engine performance and emissions upgrades

Why should I
upgrade my engine?

Emissions and Performance Upgrades for Marine Engines

Andy Calhoun

Design Engineer | Repower and Upgrades

+1 309-578-9715
Calhoun_Andrew_S@cat.com

“You get the same performance as a new engine without buying a new engine.”

What is your role with Caterpillar?

I’ve been a design engineer with Caterpillar for 23 years, the last 10 of which I have been working with machines and engines in the Repower and Engine Upgrades group. My group’s primary focus is on emissions reduction, performance and safety. While designing engine upgrades, we integrate replacing engine performance components with higher emissions Tier level parts such as pistons, camshafts and cylinder heads.

Andy Calhoun


How can customers improve engine performance?

Upgrading an engine with the latest technology, like software updates and hardware upgrades, will bring the engine up-to-date with the same specifications as later model production engines, which have been approved by Caterpillar. By upgrading their engine, customers will get the latest technology and optimum performance.

What types of upgrades are available to customers?

There are two types of engine upgrades available. The customer can choose to do either an emissions upgrade, or a performance upgrade.

Emissions upgrades are focused on regulatory compliance and sustainability. The emissions upgrade kits we offer have all been verified by the EPA, but are applicable to other regions and standards as well, such as IMO standards (International Maritime Organization).

Performance upgrade kits are focused on fuel savings and response time. When you upgrade performance, you typically are upgrading to an electronic engine, which will provide you with full electronic controls and improved efficiency.

Which engines are eligible for emissions and performance upgrades?

Engine upgrades are available for select Marine 3500 series engines (3508, 3512 and 3516), as well as select 3600 series engines.

What are the advantages of emissions and performance upgrades?

Engine upgrades provide customers with the latest technology available at Caterpillar. They will get the same performance as a new engine, but with less investment. Engine upgrades provide a significant cost advantage over purchasing a new engine. Also, by performing an emissions upgrade where applicable, our customers will be allowed to operate their vessels in more stringently regulated waters.

Another benefit is that the upgrade can be done in the hull. For some vessels, it might be very a difficult and extensive job to remove and replace the engine. In this case, it would be more advantageous to upgrade the engine because the upgrade can be done in place without having to remove the engine from the vessel.

If sustainability is a concern, an engine upgrade provides an advantage by reusing a good percentage of the original engine components instead of replacing them. The upgrade gives the engine a new life and helps it keep on going.

Another advantage of an engine upgrade is the improved service parts availability. Newer parts used during the upgrade are more readily available and stocked for replacement than the older parts.

What emissions upgrades are available?

There are several options available. We can upgrade a mechanical unit injector (MUI) engine to an electronic unit injector (EUI) engine. Upgrading to an EUI engine helps with maintenance costs and gives the option of adding an operator display. We can also take an MUI up to a verified EPA Tier 1 or EPA Tier 2 level.

Or let’s say the customer has an EUI engine already. They could choose to upgrade that engine to an EPA Tier 1 or EPA Tier 2 level. Plus, we can upgrade an EPA Tier 1 to an EPA Tier 2. We have quite a variety of upgrades available to fit customer needs.

How is an emissions upgrade different than an overhaul?

During a standard overhaul, several original engine parts are replaced with like parts, which leaves the engine with the same emissions level and performance as the original engine with no upgrade. Whereas, an emissions upgrade uses components from a newer model engine and retrofits them back into the engine to provide similar emissions and performance benefits as the newer model. The result is that the older engine is upgraded to the newer, proven model specs.

What can customers expect after an upgrade?

After an engine upgrade, customers can expect their engine to be reset to a new standard with zero hours of operation. They can get decades more service out of that engine at potentially a lower cost than a new engine. The upgrade will provide a far better operator experience and allow customers to operate their vessel in areas with stricter emissions standards, providing more opportunity to use that vessel.

What financial assistance is available for upgrades?

Funding is available, but is dependent on many factors. So, it has to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Funding sources can include port authorities, state environmental protection agencies, national programs like the EPA and national Clean Diesel Program, and supplemental environmental projects. Funding includes money that is distributed through settlements with a regulatory body like the EPA.

What is the Mitigation Trust Fund? Does it provide funding for emissions upgrades?

The Mitigation Trust Fund (MTF) does provide funding for these upgrades. As a part of Volkswagen’s settlement with the EPA for violating the Clean Air Act, the MTF was set up to distribute nearly $3 billion in funding dedicated to reducing NOX emissions. So, there’s quite a lot of funding available that customers can take advantage of.

How can customers take advantage of MTF funding?

Each state was allocated a certain amount of funds. A customer can search for “Mitigation Trust Fund’ and their state online to find more information about it. Or, if they don’t feel comfortable doing that, they can also reach out to their local Cat® dealer for assistance.

Are there any other ways to improve performance and emissions?

As always, customers can follow the operation and maintenance manuals for their engines and use Cat filters and fluids. These have been engineered to optimize their engines and protect their investments.