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FIMA report: The diesel engine and its rivals – The future of powering non-road mobile machinery

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportProfessional


Original languageEnglish
PublisherFIMA, Forum for Intelligent Machines ry
Number of pages43
Publication statusUnpublished - 26 May 2016
Publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study


Internal Combustion engines (ICE) have dominated non road mobile machinery sector for 100 years because of the energy density of the fuel although the engines’ efficiency is less than 0.5. The second reason for the success of the combustion engine is its versatility. The smallest engines deliver 100 W and the largest around 80 MW, and various designs exist. These benefits are still important, and new technologies will not replace the combustion engine in the near future on a large scale.

Currently, the combustion engine’s main competitive technologies are electric drive units and batteries as energy storage although the market share of battery-powered machines is extremely low. In the long run, hydrogen-based fuel cell technology will be the combustion engine’s main competitor. The change will not happen rapidly but step by step, and it will be decades before new solutions are used widely in different applications.

Diesel engines will remain the dominant power source in mobile machines over the coming decades, but niche markets will appear in which diesel engines will disappear sooner. There will be more variation in powertrain technologies between applications. The future of mobile machines will not be dominated by one power train technology but by combinations of technologies.

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland