mNACTEC acquires hundred-year-old diesel engine

The exhibit was kept at the former Cabrianes textile complex

The National Science and Technology Museum of Catalonia (mNACTEC) has acquired a unique diesel engine kept at the former Cabrianes textile complex in Sallent, Bages, through the Catalan Cultural Heritage Agency.

This hundred-year-old engine, used to generate electrical power at the former Berenguer factory in Cabrianes, was rediscovered and restored to operational condition a number of years ago by two European industrial engine experts. After almost 2 years of negotiations between the mNACTEC and the engine's Dutch owners, in order to prevent it from leaving Catalonia or disappearing from view, the museum was finally able to keep the exhibit at its original site.

A unique engine

This stationary diesel engine was manufactured in 1920 in Stockholm, Sweden, by the Atlas Polar Engine company. Although it was initially intended as a marine engine, it was relocated to Cabrianes in 1920 itself having been purchased by Manufacturas Berenguer. A turbine alongside the river initially provided the facilities with their

electricity, but when they needed more power they turned to an engine to run the electrical generator. It performed this auxiliary function for decades up until its peak usage in the middle of the 20th century, following which the engine gradually fell into disuse as electrical energy could be purchased directly from supply companies.

Aside from its age, the distinctive feature of this engine is that it is one of the few known examples with a six-cylinder compressor model still in operation worldwide, as the subsequent versions to be manufactured were fitted with an injection pump. It also stands out for its large size, measuring 6 metres long and 4 high, weighing some 40 tonnes, and has a flywheel with a weight of 5 tonnes and a diameter of 2.20 metres. All in all the engine represents an outstanding exhibit of engineering and of Catalonia's industrial history, delivering 300 horsepower and running at 275 revolutions per minute.

press-clock 28 February 2020