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The history of the Diesel engine
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The history of the Diesel engine

Diesel engines have been a part of our lives for many years, and chances are, you will have experience of them already. They are commonly used in motor cars, locomotives, and in construction equipment. As you know, they are also used within our diesel generators.

But where did diesel engines originate?

We will give you a brief account below, so if you have ever wanted to know more about the diesel engine that is used to power up your diesel generator, keep reading to learn about its history and the mystery that surrounds its creator.

The History Of The Diesel Engine

The inventor of the diesel engine is Rudolf Diesel. Born in Paris, France in 1958, he came up with the idea of the diesel engine while the steam engine was still the main source of power used within large industries.

Rudolf grew up in France but he left for England during the events of the Franco-German war. He moved to Germany to study engine design and then returned to Paris in 1885 to begin the development of the compression ignition engine. He worked on this for several years and received patents to develop the internal combustion engine which, he discovered, could turn heat into work.

He believed his engine could turn 75% of heat into energy, but his early attempts failed. However, while he didn’t get the results he wanted when developing his engine, he did create an engine that was 25% efficient, and that was twice as good as any that had been developed by his rivals. Unfortunately, the first diesel engines he created were unreliable, and this led to many customers asking for refunds. Consequently, Diesel found himself in a financial hole that he never recovered from.

Still, he kept working and his invention continued to improve. He found some success with the military as they used his fuel in their transport. By 1904, these included French submarines.

So popular was his invention with the military, that the British Navy took an interest in his work. He was on his way to meet them on a voyage to England in 1913, but it’s here where events take a murky turn. He fell overboard to his death, but little is known about how. Some have theorised that he killed himself because of his financial struggles, while others have suggested that he was murdered by those who felt threatened by his involvement with the British government. We still don’t know the answer, and we never will.

Despite Diesel’s death, other companies carried on with his work after his patents expired. After the events of World War One, his invention became widely used. In the 1920s, the first diesel-powered trucks appeared. Diesel-powered trains started to become commonplace in the 1930s. And by 1939, a quarter of the sea trade was fuelled by diesel.

The diesel engine became more powerful and efficient after World War 2 and it is was used to power larger ships. In later years, it was used more widely, powering cars, industrial plants, pipelines and more. We can see its effects today, within the machines, we operate, including the diesel generators that are available on our website.

Rudolf Diesel never lived long enough to see the impact of his invention. This is a shame, but remember the work he did the next time you power up your diesel generator or the next time you get into your car. The work of Rudolf Diesel should never be forgotten.

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