Doctor Diesel offers accurate prognosis for shipping industry


UK-based technology company Icon Research has collaborated with the Scottish Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems, CENSIS, to develop a new method of increasing ships' fuel efficiency.

The partners devised the solution during a joint effort to enhance Icon Research’s portable cylinder pressure analysis system known as 'Doctor Diesel'. 

The newly unveiled system is able to deliver accurate data regarding the position of pistons within the cylinders of ships’ diesel engines.

It can also automatically synchronise combustion pressure to top dead-centre of the crankshaft within up to 0.1° of accuracy.

Ship operators are able to gain a greater understanding of overall engine performance by reliably tracking the combustion process in the cylinder.

Icon Research noted that the newly achieved precision level is better than the level delivered by existing technologies, which usually provide readings within around 1°.

"By optimising the combustion cycle in each cylinder, significant cost savings can be made, as well as lowering emissions to help the environment."

Engines that are timed just 1° late can increase exhaust temperatures by as much as 10ºC, thereby resulting in up to 2% increase in fuel consumption.

A typical tanker currently consumes 120t of diesel each day, which is the equivalent of around $40,000 worth of fuel.

Icon Research managing director Jim Edgar said: “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.”

Edgar further noted that the updated Doctor Diesel system can provide more accurate readings, thereby helping ship crews operate engines more reliably, in addition to reducing vibration and detecting cylinder problems earlier than previous methods.