A diesel engine is designed with protection systems to alert the operators of abnormal conditions and to prevent the engine from destroying itself.
Overspeed device -
Because a diesel is not self-speed-limiting, a failure in the governor, injection system, or sudden loss of load could cause the diesel to overspeed. An overspeed condition is extremely dangerous because engine failure is usually catastrophic and can possibly cause the engine to fly apart.
An overspeed device, usually some type of mechanical flyweight, will act to cut off fuel to the engine and alarm at a certain preset rpm. This is usually accomplished by isolating the governor from its oil supply, causing it to travel to the no-fuel position, or it can override the governor and directly trip the fuel rack to the no-fuel position.
Water jacket -
Water-cooled engines can overheat if the cooling water system fails to remove waste heat. Removal of the waste heat prevents the engine from seizing due to excessive expansion of the components under a high temperature condition. The cooling water jacket is commonly where the sensor for the cooling water system is located. The water jacket temperature sensors provide early warning of abnormal engine temperature, usually an alarm function only. The setpoint is set such that if the condition is corrected in a timely manner, significant engine damage will be avoided. But continued engine operation at the alarm temperature or higher temperatures will lead to engine damage.
Exhaust temperatures -
In a diesel engine, exhaust temperatures are very important and can provide a vast amount of information regarding the operation of the engine. High exhaust temperature can indicate an overloading of the engine or possible poor performance due to inadequate scavenging (the cooling effect) in the engine. Extended operation with high exhaust temperatures can result in damage to the exhaust valves, piston, and cylinders. The exhaust temperature usually provides only an alarm function.
Low lube oil pressure -
Low oil pressure or loss of oil pressure can destroy an engine in short order. Therefore, most medium to larger engines will stop upon low or loss of oil pressure. Loss of oil pressure can result in the engine seizing due to lack of lubrication. Engines with mechanical-hydraulic governors will also stop due to the lack of oil to the governor. The oil pressure sensor usually stops the engine. The oil pressure sensors on larger engines usually have two low pressure setpoints. One setpoint provides early warning of abnormal oil pressure, an alarm function only. The second setpoint can be set to shutdown the engine before permanent damage is done.
High crankcase pressure -
High crankcase pressure is usually caused by excessive blow-by (gas pressure in the cylinder blowing by the piston rings and into the crankcase). The high pressure condition indicates the engine is in poor condition. The high crankcase pressure is usually used only as an alarm function.
Most mid-sized to large diesel engines have (as a minimum) the following protective alarms and trips. Engine overspeed alarm/trip High water jacket temperature alarm High exhaust temperature alarm Low lube oil pressure (alarm and/or trip) High crankcase pressure alarm