The diesel engine has a long history that is intertwined closely with economic
and other issues of the time. The diesel engine was created by Rudolph Diesel.
He developed the idea of the diesel engine and thought up the principle of its
operation. He thought up the concept of the engine that compresses air to the
degree where there is a resulting rise in temperature.
The concept followed the principle where when the air enters the chamber with
the piston, the air ignited due to the high temperatures. This causes the piston
to move down and eliminates the need for an ignition source. When Diesel
designed his engine, it was in a time when there was a demand for a more fuel
efficient engine as the steam engine was no where close to efficient.
It was on February 27th, 1892 that Diesel filed a patent in the patent office
in Germany for his method and design for the combustion engine. He sourced
contracts from companies that manufactured machines and began his
experimentation stage. During this stage he constructed working models of his
design in an attempt to construct the most efficient engine of that time.
It was in the year 1893 that he was successful in putting out the first model
that was able to run with its own power and with an efficiency of approximately
26%. This was more than double the efficiency of the steam engines of that time
and was a great stride for the efficient engine and a great start to the
engines of today.
It was in February of 1897 that he accomplished a great achievement and
produced a diesel engine that ran at 75% efficiency. This was the first one of
its kind that was deemed suitable for practical use and was demonstrated at the
Exhibition fair in France in the year 1898. This engine in particular was run
on peanut oil and in Diesel's vision was great for the small business owners as
well as farmers as it used an economical fuel source that was a biomass fuel.
It was his use of a biomass fuel that continued until the 1920's and is starting
In the past the diesel engine was not considered to be small enough for anything
but stationary use as they were very heavy and cumbersome.
Common uses were on ships and industrial uses. Rudolph Diesel disappeared in
1913 and it was not certain whether he died a natural or unnatural death. Many
thought his death was related to the politics of the time and the vast knowledge
he possessed and was willing to share with enemies of the German government of
the time. Another theory in Diesel's death is that he died by suicide, possibly
due to being deeply in debt.
Diesel Engine built in Feburary of 1897.
Source: Helmut Hütten, "Motoren", Motorbuchverlag Stuttgart, S. 19
A third theory in the death of Diesel is based around the hope that his engine
would provide power using alternative/cheaper/greener fuels. This revolutionary
thinking may have scared some oil investors. Rudolf Diesel said, "The use of
vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may
become in course of time as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of
the present time." After his death, the Diesel engine was engineered to run only
on petroleum based products and his great ideas of a clean burning engine died
In the 1920's the engine was redesigned into a smaller and more compact version.
This allowed it to be used for a wider range of applications and even in the
automobile industry. The development of the diesel engine continued and it was
made better and better by other inventors such as Clessie L. Cummins who worked
out many of the bugs of the diesel engine such as those concerning size and
weight as well as the instability of the fuel system.
Although Diesel was born in Paris, his parents were German. His father was a
leather craftsman, and his mother a governess and language tutor. Rudolf was a
good student in primary school and was admitted at the age of 12 to the Ecole
Primaire Superieure, then regarded as the best in Paris. At the outbreak of the
Franco-Prussian War, however, he and his parents were considered enemy aliens,
and were deported to neutral asylum in London. A cousin helped him to return to
his father's home town, Augsburg, where he entered the Royal County Trade
School. From there he won a scholarship to the Technische Hochschule of Munich,
where he was an outstanding student. He became a protege of Carl von Linde, the
pioneer of refrigeration.
After graduation, he was employed for two years as a machinist and designer in
Winterthur, Switzerland. After this, he returned to Paris, where he was employed
as a refrigeration engineer at Linde Refrigeration Enterprises. In Paris he
became a connoisseur of the fine arts and an internationalist. He married in
1883, and had three children. He set up his first shop-laboratory in 1885 in
Paris, and began full-time work on his engine. This continued when he moved to
Berlin, working again for Linde Enterprises.
John Stafford - webmaster of www.diesel-generator-central.com
Wikipedia - www.wikipedia.org
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