Behind the scenes: Volvo Penta D8 genset engine development

volvo penta

Volvo Penta engineers spent three years developing, testing and optimizing the new D8 genset engine to ensure it delivered industry-leading power density, low fuel consumption and low noise levels. 

By Anders Wernersson, Engineering project manager for medium duty engines at Volvo Penta

Developing a new genset engine is both a big investment and a challenge. 

At Volvo Penta, we focus on what brings value to our customers and put their needs at the heart of our design process. 

That’s why we started our new 8-litre power generation engine project by speaking to our customers and finding out what they wanted to see in a new industrial generator engine. 

Based on their input, our top priorities were high power density, a compact size, low fuel consumption, low noise levels, ease of installation and reliability. 

They told us that they would mainly use the new engine as a reliable source of back-up power, as well as cost-effective primary power generation in areas where energy is scarce. And there was a demand for the engine to be used in both mobile and stationary power generation applications. This gave us some very clear goals and made sure everyone involved in the project was pulling in the same direction and knew exactly what we needed to accomplish.

Volvo knowhow 

As Volvo Penta is part of the Volvo Group, we are in the privileged position to have the strength of the group behind us and all the benefits this brings for sharing technologies. This meant that we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, as we could start our development work with the proven D8 base engine. 

The D8 has already been used globally for a wide variety of applications across the Volvo Group. The proven design is based on mature technology concepts that have undergone hundreds of thousands of testing hours and real-world use, so our customers will benefit from proven, reliable components. 

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By combining the product experience from Volvo Trucks with the customer, market and application knowledge of Volvo Penta, we have perfected and optimized the design for the power generation segment and created the optimal solution for all the applications, climates and environments our customers operate in. 

Testing is a key part of the development process and we’ve tested this engine to the maximum – at temperatures of -25 C through to 60 C of sweltering heat. We’ve tested everything possible, down to the last screw, in the most demanding conditions to verify performance, reliability and durability. 

This involved engine calibration testing to ensure power and emission targets were met, functional testing, specific component testing, complete genset endurance testing, stress tests, customer installation tests and real-world field testing.

Field testing

We currently have around 20 prototype Volvo Penta D8 engines undergoing real-world field testing with customers in different applications and environments. This has provided us with invaluable feedback from customers who appreciate the engine’s compact design for its power class, which has been achieved without compromising on cooling performance.

Other feedback has centered around the high power to weight ratio which contributes to industry-leading power density, low fuel consumption, low noise levels, quick and easy installation as well as ease of operation and maintenance.

The D8 is a modern, straightforward engine that will not only deliver power when you need it, but also an extremely attractive total cost of ownership throughout its service life.

Looking at the new D8 and based on the test results and customer feedback we’ve received so far, I think it’s clear that that we’ve focused on what brings the most value to our customers and delivered on their requirements.

For me, that means this project has been a success.