Delivering more accurate prognosis for diesel engines


Icon Research

Start date:

March 2017


Six weeks

Project abstract

Scottish SME Icon Research is a world leader in the fields of diesel engine performance analysis in the marine market and vibration-based machinery condition monitoring in the general industrial market.  The company has been trading since 1993 and has developed a Portable Cylinder Pressure Analysis system, known as ‘Doctor Diesel’.

Icon Research approached CENSIS to enhance the performance of ‘Doctor Diesel’ by incorporating new mathematical modelling software. The challenge was to use our specialist expertise in mathematical modelling to create a new method of delivering extremely accurate data about the position of pistons within the cylinders of ships’ diesel engines.

New Algorithm Development

Thanks to the development of a new algorithm developed by Senior Engineer Helen Sandison, the updated toolkit will be able to automatically synchronise combustion pressure to top dead centre of the crankshaft within up to 0.1° of accuracy. Accurately tracking the combustion process in the cylinder leads to a better understanding of overall engine performance.

This level of precision is a marked improvement on existing technologies, which typically deliver readings within 1°. Engines that are timed just 1° late can intensify exhaust temperatures by as much as 10ºC, resulting in an increase in fuel consumption of up to 2%. A typical tanker burns 120 tonnes of diesel each day, the equivalent of around $40,000.

Ocean-going vessels measure fuel in tonnes and burn tens-of-thousands of dollars’ worth of it every day. By optimising the combustion cycle in each cylinder, significant cost savings can be made, as well as lowering emissions to help the environment. Asynchronous processes can have a major impact on efficiency, which makes aligning them absolutely imperative.

Previous engine analysers used angular resolutions accurate to 1°; the CENSIS project now provides accuracies of 10 times better. More accurate readings also help crews to operate engines more reliably, by reducing vibration and detecting cylinder problems before they become catastrophic.

Doctor Diesel is ubiquitous in the maritime sector – with thousands currently in use around the globe. It is also used to train naval students at the City of Glasgow College and is deployed in nuclear power plants and hospitals, where diesel is used as an emergency backup source of power.

Project Impact

The project further enhances Icon Research’s leading position in engine diagnostics within the marine industry. The new ‘Doctor Diesel’ provides a significant improvement on the data a ship’s crew can draw on. It will also be easier to use and safer, eliminating the need for the cables, which previously transferred data, to be draped over engines.

Further Information

Read the press release about this project.

Browse Projects by

All Projects