Control for the most powerful ship engine in the world

Embedded Software FPGA Development Hardware Environment

SCS has developed a versatile control system for internal combustion engines for Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD). The new control system enables the control of the world's largest dual-fuel marine engine: the "Winterthur Gas & Diesel 12X92DF". Thanks to natural gas operation, the ships save 20%CO2, as well as more than 90% NOx and particulate matter emissions.

  • Situation

    The combustion of gas and diesel (dual-fuel) in the same engine requires a particularly reliable, dynamic and precise control system. Engine control systems are available "off the shelf" on the market. However, such closed systems limit the ability to innovate and often mean a "vendor lock-in".

  • Solution SCS

    The control system is based on modular hardware which, thanks to FPGA technology, allows flexible evaluation of the sensors and precise control of valves and ignition. In addition, a powerful processor enables the development of complex control algorithms and a secure connection to the cloud.

  • Added value

    The control platform enables WinGD to provide simple commissioning, transparent and reliable operation as well as many expansion options. It thus forms the basis for future innovations.

Project insights

The CMA CGM Jaques Saade is one of the largest and greenest container ships in the world. Since October 2020, the ship has been sailing with the world's most powerful 12-cylinder dual-fuel marine engine: the 12X92DF from Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD). It must be possible to control 85,000 hp precisely and reliably. SCS has developed a control system for this purpose.

The ship's engine burns both natural gas (LNG, liquid natural gas) and diesel. By burning natural gas, emissions can be significantly reduced: 20% lessCO2, 90% less nitrogen oxides (NOx) and virtually no sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter (PM). The engine makes a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions in the transport sector. It is also ahead of the times: regulations that will be introduced in the marine sector in the future are already fulfilled today.

Powered by the world's largest dual-fuel marine engine: the container ship CMA CGM Jaques Saade. Image: Cmacgm13 via Wikimedia
Powered by the world's most powerful dual-fuel marine engine: the container ship CMA CGM Jaques Saade. Image: Cmacgm13 via Wikimedia
The 12X92DF marine engine weighs 2000 tonnes and is the size of a family home. Image: WinGD
The 12X92DF marine engine weighs 2000 tonnes and is the size of a family home. Image: WinGD
Natural gas enables CO2 reductions of more than 20 percent and NOx, SOx and particulate matter reductions of more than 90 percent compared to diesel combustion. Image: WinGD
Natural gas enables CO2 reductions of more than 20 percent and NOx, SOx and particulate matter reductions of more than 90 percent compared to diesel combustion. Image: WinGD

The engine weighs 2000 tonnes and it is absolutely central that it can be operated and controlled efficiently and safely at all times. This is only possible with a customised control system. SCS has developed the hardware, FPGA firmware and software for a distributed system for this purpose. On the control system, the sophisticated control and optimisation algorithms of WinGD can be calculated in real time, which enables operation at the optimal operating point at all times.

The control system consists of various modules that can be combined to suit any type of motor. The modules communicate via two redundant Ethernet rings, which ensure secure communication even if one cylinder fails. On each cylinder control unit (CCU), there are dozens of sensor inputs as well as powerful control outputs for the dynamic regulation of the electromechanical valves. On the gateway control unit (GTU), there are communication interfaces to the internet, to the control bridge and to other peripherals, as well as a firewall to ensure cyber security.

After a joint planning phase with WinGD, SCS created the control system in less than 12 months, going through the complete process from specification to completion of the hardware. The focus was always on quality and traceable engineering processes. This is also how the ship classification by Bureau Veritas was achieved in the first attempt.

The engine achieves an output of 85,000 hp at 80 revolutions per minute. The valves are controlled with microsecond precision. Image: WinGD
The engine achieves an output of 85,000 hp at 80 revolutions per minute. The valves are controlled with microsecond precision. Image: WinGD
The Cylinder Control Unit (CCU) enables local measurements as well as dynamic control of the engine valves directly on each cylinder. Image: SCS
The Cylinder Control Unit (CCU) enables local measurements as well as dynamic control of the engine valves directly on each cylinder. Image: SCS
After successful certification of the control system and extensive sea trials, the first container ship with SCS control system has just arrived in Europe. Image: geni via Wikimedia

We are very pleased that WinGD has passed the final tests with the completion of the "Gas Trial" in October 2020 and that the first of nine planned ships has made the crossing to Europe. SCS is already working on further developments in cooperation with WinGD.

Technical details on the engine and the control system can be found in the following Winterthur Gas & Diesel publications:

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