Forensic Engineers & Investigators

Forensic analysis of internal combustion engine failures and components

We provide detailed failure analysis of reciprocating engines and engine components, and assess engine operating performance. Our investigative process gathers information from the following sources:

  • Maintenance and operational records;

  • Interviews with operational and maintenance staff;

  • Purchase contracts;

  • Human Machine Interface (HMI) and process plant information;

  • Non Destructive Testing (NDT) ;

  • Detailed strip down inspections;

  • Metallurgical analysis and use of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM);

  • Failure debris and spent oil analysis.


Several of our clients have been involved in commissioning, operating and maintaining industrial and marine petrol, diesel and gas reciprocating engines. Typically, the engines had been used for the generation of electrical power or a mechanical purpose such as processing municipal waste or providing motive power to a land or marine vehicle and had proven to be unreliable, having suffered one or more major failures.

For these clients, we reviewed information available from operating and maintenance records, human/machine interface computer trends, as well as witness reports from maintenance and operational staff. We related this to engine specifications and maintenance instructional documentation. We also supervised engine strip down inspections and assessed metallurgical evidence of certain machine parts of interest.

We carried out a review of the information available and compared that with engine specifications and maintenance instructional documentation. We also led strip down inspections and subjected components of interest to metallurgical and forensic analysis. From this information we were able to determine the cause of failure of one or more failure events as well as factors contributing to poor and reliable performance history.

Reciprocating Engine Internals
Superflyte ferry – high profile investigation

Fire forces Waiheke ferry evacuation on 22 August 2004, the passenger ferry Superflyte was proceeding from Waiheke island to Auckland when a fire was discovered in the port engine room. All passengers were evacuated to other vessels that responded to the call. Prosolve Ltd provided engineering advice to the NZ Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) during the investigation and helped to determine the cause of the fire which was related to the failure of a reciprocating engine component.

Scroll to Top