Portrait: Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the Diesel engine

Wednesday, 24 February 2021 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait

Rudolf Diesel © volvotrucks.com

Rudolf Diesel © volvotrucks.com

Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel was a German inventor and mechanical engineer, famous for the invention of the Diesel engine, and for his suspicious death at sea. Diesel was the namesake of the 1942 film Diesel. The first successful Diesel engine ran in 1897 and is now on display at the German Technical Museum in Munich. Rudolf Diesel obtained patents for his design in Germany and other countries, including the United States. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1978.

One of Diesel’s professors in Munich was Carl von Linde. Diesel was unable to graduate with his class in July 1879 because he fell ill with typhoid fever. While waiting for the next examination date, he gained practical engineering experience at the Sulzer Brothers Machine Works in Winterthur, Switzerland. Diesel graduated in January 1880 with highest academic honours and returned to Paris, where he assisted his former Munich professor, Carl von Linde, with the design and construction of a modern refrigeration and ice plant. Diesel became the director of the plant one year later.

In 1883, Diesel married Martha Flasche, and continued to work for Linde, gaining numerous patents in both Germany and France.

In early 1890, Diesel moved to Berlin with his wife and children, Rudolf Jr, Heddy, and Eugen, to assume management of Linde’s corporate research and development department and to join several other corporate boards there. As he was not allowed to use the patents he developed while an employee of Linde’s for his own purposes, he expanded beyond the field of refrigeration. He first worked with steam, his research into thermal efficiency and fuel efficiency leading him to build a steam engine using ammonia vapour. During tests, however, the engine exploded and almost killed him. His research into high compression cylinder pressures tested the strength of iron and steel cylinder heads. One exploded during a run in. He spent many months in a hospital, followed by health and eyesight problems.

Ever since attending lectures of Carl von Linde, Diesel intended designing an internal combustion engine that could approach the maximum theoretical thermal efficiency of the Carnot cycle. He worked on this idea for several years, and in 1892, he considered his theory to be completed. The same year, Diesel was given the German patent DRP 67207. In 1893, he published a treatise entitled Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat-engine to Replace the Steam Engine and The Combustion Engines Known Today, that he had been working on since early 1892. This treatise formed the basis for his work on and invention of the Diesel engine. By summer 1893, Diesel had realised that his initial theory was erroneous, which led him to file another patent application for the corrected theory in 1893.

Diesel understood thermodynamics and the theoretical and practical constraints on fuel efficiency. He knew that as much as 90% of the energy available in the fuel is wasted in a steam engine. His work in engine design was driven by the goal of much higher efficiency ratios.

In his engine, fuel was injected at the end of the compression stroke and was ignited by the high temperature resulting from the compression. From 1893 to 1897, Heinrich von Buz, director of MAN SE in Augsburg, gave Rudolf Diesel the opportunity to test and develop his ideas.

Rudolf Diesel Memorial Grove at Wittelsbacher Park, Augsburg, Bavaria © LarsEvers/cc-by-sa-3.0 First Diesel engine at MAN Museum © MAN SE/cc-by-3.0 Diesel engine patent from 1893 © Reichspatentamt, Berlin, Germany Rudolf Diesel © volvotrucks.com
<
>
Rudolf Diesel Memorial Grove at Wittelsbacher Park, Augsburg, Bavaria © LarsEvers/cc-by-sa-3.0
After Diesel’s death, his engine underwent much development and became a very important replacement for the steam piston engine in many applications. Because the Diesel engine required a heavier, more robust construction than a gasoline engine, it saw limited use in aviation. However, the Diesel engine became widespread in many other applications, such as stationary engines, agricultural machines and off-highway machinery in general, submarines, ships, and much later, locomotives, trucks, and in modern automobiles.

The Diesel engine has the benefit of running more fuel-efficiently than gasoline engines due to much higher compression ratios and longer duration of combustion, which means the temperature rises more slowly, allowing more heat to be converted to mechanical work.

Diesel was interested in using coal dust or vegetable oil as fuel, and in fact, his engine was run on peanut oil. Although these fuels were not immediately popular, during 2008 rises in fuel prices, coupled with concerns about oil reserves, have led to the more widespread use of vegetable oil and biodiesel.

The primary fuel used in diesel engines is the eponymous diesel fuel, derived from the refinement of crude oil. Diesel is safer to store than gasoline, because its flash point is approximately 175 °F (79.4 °C) higher, and it will not explode.

In a book titled Diesel Engines for Land and Marine Work, Diesel said that “In 1900 a small Diesel engine was exhibited by the Otto company which, on the suggestion of the French Government, was run on arachide [peanut] oil, and operated so well that very few people were aware of the fact. The motor was built for ordinary oils, and without any modification was run on vegetable oil. I have recently repeated these experiments on a large scale with full success and entire confirmation of the results formerly obtained.”

Read more on Deutsche Biographie – Rudolf Diesel, MAN Museum (where the world’s first diesel engine, a test engine, is on display) and Wikipedia Rudolf Diesel (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




Recommended posts:

Share this post: (Please note data protection regulations before using buttons)

Theme Week Brussels - Mini-Europe

Theme Week Brussels - Mini-Europe

[caption id="attachment_6614" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Birdseye view © Gellerj/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Mini-Europe is a miniature park located in Bruparck at the foot of the Atomium in Brussels. Mini-Europe has the reproductions of the most attractive monuments in the European Union on show, at a scale of 1:25. Roughly 80 cities and 350 buildings are represented. The park is renowned for the quality of its models, some of which cost as much as €350,000 to make (the Brussels Grand-Place). The park contai...

[ read more ]

SpåraKoff in Helsinki

SpåraKoff in Helsinki

[caption id="attachment_208377" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Cecil/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]SpåraKoff is a HM V type tram converted into a bar in Helsinki, Finland. Known as the pub tram, the vehicle does circular tours of downtown Helsinki picking up passengers for a fee during summer months. It is operated jointly by Sinebrychoff, HOK-Elanto (part of the S Group), and Helsinki City Transport. The pub tram is immediately distinguishable in the Helsinki traffic by its vivid red colour (as opposed to the nor...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Venezuela - Maracaibo

Theme Week Venezuela - Maracaibo

[caption id="attachment_172203" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Calle Carabobo © The Photographer[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Maracaibo is a city and municipality in northwestern Venezuela, on the western shore of the strait that connects Lake Maracaibo to the Gulf of Venezuela. It is the second-largest city in the country (after the national capital Caracas) and the capital of the state of Zulia. The population of the city is approximately 2.7 million with the metropolitan area estimated at 3.9 million. Maracaibo is nicknamed L...

[ read more ]

Legoland® Florida announces opening date

Legoland® Florida announces opening date

[caption id="attachment_146279" align="aligncenter" width="300"] © Lego Group - Merlin Entertainment[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Inspired by America’s love affair with all things LEGO®, the new 150-acre theme park will cater to kids ages 2 to 12 with more than 50 "pink-knuckle" rides – from roller coasters to race cars – as well as family focused shows and attractions. Park officials disclosed the date, a closely guarded secret since the park broke ground last year, to help families already planning vacations in th...

[ read more ]

Arkhangelsk in northern Russia

Arkhangelsk in northern Russia

[caption id="attachment_151350" align="aligncenter" width="586"] Arkhangelsk © Ларин Андрей/cc-by-sa-2.5[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Arkhangelsk, sometimes Archangel, is a city and the administrative center of Arkhangelsk Oblast, in the north of Russia. It lies on both banks of the Northern Dvina River near its exit into the White Sea. The city spreads for over 40 kilometers (25 mi) along the banks of the river and numerous islands of its delta. Arkhangelsk was the chief seaport of medieval Russia until 1703. A 1,133-k...

[ read more ]

Trondheim in Norway

Trondheim in Norway

[caption id="attachment_152768" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Overview of Trondheim © Åge Hojem/Trondheim Havn[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Trondheim, historically, Nidaros and Trondhjem, is a city and municipality in Sør-Trøndelag, Norway. With a population of 171,000, it is the third most populated municipality and fourth most populated city in the country. It is the country seat of Sør-Trøndelag. Trondheim lies on the south shore of the Trondheimsfjord at the mouth of the river Nidelva. The city is dominated by the Norw...

[ read more ]

The InterContinental Berchtesgaden Resort

The InterContinental Berchtesgaden Resort

[caption id="attachment_24359" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © ichotelsgroup.com[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]At a height of 1,000 metres the scenery between Watzmann, Untersberg and Kehlstein, surrounded by Germany's one and only Alpine National Park, is simply impressive. Nesting in the midst of untouched nature the InterContinental Berchtesgaden Resort sits like a horseshoe among lush mountain pastures on the eastern outskirts of Berchtesgaden, just 30 kilometres from Salzburg. You will be intrigued by the rich local...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Umbria - Castiglione del Lago

Theme Week Umbria - Castiglione del Lago

[caption id="attachment_153579" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Castiglione del Lago and Lake Trasimeno Panorama © Adrian Michael/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Castiglione del Lago is a town in the Province of Perugia in central Italy, on the southwest corner of Lake Trasimeno. Orvieto is 59 km (37 mi) south, Chiusi is 21 km (13 mi) to the south west, Arezzo is 56 km (35 mi) to the north west, Cortona is 21 km (13 mi) to the north and Perugia is 47 km (29 mi) to the south east. The Association The most beautiful villa...

[ read more ]

Theme Week Sardinia - Sassari

Theme Week Sardinia - Sassari

[caption id="attachment_150745" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Piazza Tola © Gianni Careddu/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Sassari is an Italian city and the second-largest of Sardinia in terms of population with over 130,000 inhabitants, or about 275,000 including the metropolitan area. One of the oldest cities on the island, it contains a considerable collection of art. Since its origins at the turn of the 12th century, Sassari has been ruled by the Giudicato of Torres, the Pisans, the Sassaresi themselves in allian...

[ read more ]

Ferrara in the Emilia-Romagna

Ferrara in the Emilia-Romagna

[caption id="attachment_161063" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Ferrara City Hall © Sien[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north. The town has broad streets and numerous palaces dating from the 14th century and 15th century, when it hosted the court of the House of Este. For its beauty and cultural...

[ read more ]

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲
© Paul 14/cc-by-sa-4.0
Theme Week Zeeland – Veere

Veere is a municipality with a population of 22,000 and a town with a population of 1,500 in the southwestern...

© Brian Dell
Herceg Novi at the Bay of Kotor

Herceg Novi is a city in western Montenegro, in the municipality of the same name with about 12,700 inhabitants. The...

States of Zeeland in a former abbey in Middelburg © Marc Ryckaert/cc-by-3.0
Theme Week Zeeland

Zeeland is the westernmost and least populous province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country,...

Schließen