Rudolf Diesel
Overview
 
Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel (ˈʁuːdɔlf ˈkʁɪstjan ˈkaʁl ˈdiːzəl; March 18, 1858 – September 29, 1913) was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 inventor and mechanical engineer, famous for the invention of the diesel engine
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...

.
Diesel was born in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1858 the second of three children of Theodor and Elise (Strobel) Diesel. His parents were Bavarian immigrants living in Paris. Theodor Diesel, a bookbinder by trade, left his home town of Augsburg
Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

, Bavaria
Kingdom of Bavaria
The Kingdom of Bavaria was a German state that existed from 1806 to 1918. The Bavarian Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of the House of Wittelsbach became the first King of Bavaria in 1806 as Maximilian I Joseph. The monarchy would remain held by the Wittelsbachs until the kingdom's dissolution in 1918...

, in 1848.
Quotations

The diesel engine can be fed with vegetable oils and would help considerably in the development of agriculture of the countries which use it.

1911

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.

1912

Encyclopedia
Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel (ˈʁuːdɔlf ˈkʁɪstjan ˈkaʁl ˈdiːzəl; March 18, 1858 – September 29, 1913) was a German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 inventor and mechanical engineer, famous for the invention of the diesel engine
Diesel engine
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber...

.

Early life

Diesel was born in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1858 the second of three children of Theodor and Elise (Strobel) Diesel. His parents were Bavarian immigrants living in Paris. Theodor Diesel, a bookbinder by trade, left his home town of Augsburg
Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

, Bavaria
Kingdom of Bavaria
The Kingdom of Bavaria was a German state that existed from 1806 to 1918. The Bavarian Elector Maximilian IV Joseph of the House of Wittelsbach became the first King of Bavaria in 1806 as Maximilian I Joseph. The monarchy would remain held by the Wittelsbachs until the kingdom's dissolution in 1918...

, in 1848. He met his wife, a daughter of a Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

 merchant, in Paris in 1855 and became a leather goods manufacturer there.

Rudolf Diesel spent his early childhood in France, but as a result of the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 in 1870, his family (like many other foreign born) was forced to leave. They settled in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Before the war's end in 1871, however, Diesel's mother sent 12-year-old Rudolf to Augsburg to live with his aunt and uncle, Barbara and Christoph Barnickel, to become fluent in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 and to visit the Königliche Kreis-Gewerbsschule (Royal County Trade School), where his uncle taught mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

.

At age 14, Rudolf wrote a letter to his parents stating that he wanted to become an engineer. After finishing his basic education at the top of his class in 1873, he enrolled at the newly-founded Industrial School of Augsburg. Two years later, he received a merit scholarship from the Royal Bavarian Polytechnic of Munich
Technical University of Munich
The Technische Universität München is a research university with campuses in Munich, Garching, and Weihenstephan...

, which he accepted against the wishes of his parents, who would rather have seen him start to work.

One of his professors in Munich was Carl von Linde
Carl von Linde
Professor Doctor Carl Paul Gottfried von Linde was a German engineer who developed refrigeration and gas separation technologies...

. Diesel was unable to graduate with his class in July 1879 because he fell ill with typhoid. While waiting for the next examination date, he gained practical engineering experience at the Gebrüder Sulzer Maschinenfabrik (Sulzer Brothers Machine Works) in Winterthur
Winterthur
Winterthur is a city in the canton of Zurich in northern Switzerland. It has the country's sixth largest population with an estimate of more than 100,000 people. In the local dialect and by its inhabitants, it is usually abbreviated to Winti...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. 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
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 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 patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

s he developed while an employee of Linde's for his own purposes, he expanded outside of refrigeration. He first worked with steam, his research into fuel efficiency leading him to build a steam engine using ammonia
Ammonia
Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula . It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent odour. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or...

 vapour. During tests, however, the engine exploded and almost killed him. He spent many months in a hospital, followed by health and eyesight problems. He then began designing an engine based on the Carnot cycle
Carnot cycle
The Carnot cycle is a theoretical thermodynamic cycle proposed by Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot in 1824 and expanded by Benoit Paul Émile Clapeyron in the 1830s and 40s. It can be shown that it is the most efficient cycle for converting a given amount of thermal energy into work, or conversely,...

, and in 1893, soon after Gottlieb Daimler
Gottlieb Daimler
Gottlieb Daimler was an engineer, industrial designer and industrialist born in Schorndorf , in what is now Germany. He was a pioneer of internal-combustion engines and automobile development...

 and Karl Benz
Karl Benz
Karl Friedrich Benz, was a German engine designer and car engineer, generally regarded as the inventor of the gasoline-powered car, and together with Bertha Benz pioneering founder of the automobile manufacturer Mercedes-Benz...

 had invented the motor car in 1887, Diesel published a treatise entitled Theorie und Konstruktion eines rationellen Wärmemotors zum Ersatz der Dampfmaschine und der heute bekannten Verbrennungsmotoren [Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat-engine to Replace the Steam Engine and Combustion Engines Known Today] and formed the basis for his work on and invention of the diesel engine.

Later life

Diesel understood thermodynamics
Thermodynamics
Thermodynamics is a physical science that studies the effects on material bodies, and on radiation in regions of space, of transfer of heat and of work done on or by the bodies or radiation...

 and the theoretical and practical constraints on fuel efficiency. He knew that even very good steam engines are only 10-15% thermodynamically efficient
Thermal efficiency
In thermodynamics, the thermal efficiency is a dimensionless performance measure of a device that uses thermal energy, such as an internal combustion engine, a boiler, a furnace, or a refrigerator for example.-Overview:...

, which means that up to 90% of the energy available in the fuel is wasted. His work in engine design was driven by the goal of much higher efficiency ratios. He tried to design an engine based on the Carnot Cycle
Carnot cycle
The Carnot cycle is a theoretical thermodynamic cycle proposed by Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot in 1824 and expanded by Benoit Paul Émile Clapeyron in the 1830s and 40s. It can be shown that it is the most efficient cycle for converting a given amount of thermal energy into work, or conversely,...

. However, he gave up on this and tried to develop his own approach. Eventually he designed his own engine and obtained a patent for his design. In his engine, fuel was injected at the end of compression and the fuel was ignited by the high temperature resulting from compression. In 1893, he published a book in German with the title "Theory and design of a rational thermal engine to replace the steam engine and the combustion engines known today" (English translation of the original title in German) with the help of Springer Verlag, Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. He managed to build a working engine according to his theory and design. His engine and its successors are now known as diesel engines. From 1893 to 1897, Heinrich von Buz, director of MAN AG in Augsburg, gave Rudolf Diesel the opportunity to test and develop his ideas. Rudolf Diesel obtained patents for his design in Germany and other countries, including the USA ( and ).

Death

In the evening of 29 September 1913, Diesel boarded the post office steamer Dresden
SS Dresden (1897)
|-External links:*...

 in Antwerp on his way to a meeting of the Consolidated Diesel Manufacturing company in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. He took dinner on board the ship and then retired to his cabin at about 10 p.m., leaving word for him to be called the next morning at 6:15 a.m.. He was never seen alive again. Ten days later, the crew of the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 boat Coertsen came upon the corpse of a man floating in the sea. The body was in such an advanced state of decomposition that they did not bring it aboard. Instead, the crew retrieved personal items (pill case, wallet, pocket knife, eyeglass case) from the clothing of the dead man, and returned the body to the sea. On 13 October these items were identified by Rudolf's son, Eugen Diesel, as belonging to his father.

There are various theories to explain Diesel's death. His biographers, such as Grosser (1978), present a case for suicide, and clearly consider it most likely. Other theories suggest that various people's business or military interests may have provided motives for homicide. Evidence is limited for all explanations.

Legacy

After Diesel's death, the diesel 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 was not widely used in aviation
Aviation
Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

 (but see aircraft diesel engine
Aircraft diesel engine
The aircraft diesel engine or aero diesel has not been widely used as an aircraft engine. Diesel engines were used in airships and were tried in aircraft in the late 1920s and 1930s, but never "caught on" in a major fashion...

). However, the diesel engine became widespread in many other applications, such as stationary engines, submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s, ships, and much later, locomotive
Diesel locomotive
A diesel locomotive is a type of railroad locomotive in which the prime mover is a diesel engine, a reciprocating engine operating on the Diesel cycle as invented by Dr. Rudolf Diesel...

s, truck
Truck
A truck or lorry is a motor vehicle designed to transport cargo. Trucks vary greatly in size, power, and configuration, with the smallest being mechanically similar to an automobile...

s, and in modern automobiles. Diesel engines are most often found in applications where a high torque requirement and low RPM requirement exist. Because of their generally more robust construction and high torque, diesel engines have also become the workhorses of the trucking industry. Recently, diesel engines that have overcome this weight penalty have been designed, certified, and flown in light aircraft. These engines are designed to run on either diesel fuel or more commonly jet fuel
Jet fuel
Jet fuel is a type of aviation fuel designed for use in aircraft powered by gas-turbine engines. It is clear to straw-colored in appearance. The most commonly used fuels for commercial aviation are Jet A and Jet A-1 which are produced to a standardized international specification...

.

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
Coal dust
Coal dust is a fine powdered form of coal, which is created by the crushing, grinding, or pulverizing of coal. Because of the brittle nature of coal, coal dust can be created during mining, transportation, or by mechanically handling coal.-Explosions:...

  or vegetable oil  as fuel, and his engine, in fact, was run on peanut oil. Although these fuels were not immediately popular, during 2008 rises in fuel prices coupled with concerns about oil reserves
Oil reserves
The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place. However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies, only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is...

 have led to more widespread use of vegetable oil and biodiesel
Biodiesel
Biodiesel refers to a vegetable oil- or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain alkyl esters. Biodiesel is typically made by chemically reacting lipids with an alcohol....

. The primary source of fuel remains what became known as diesel fuel, an oil byproduct derived from refinement of petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

.

Patent dispute with Herbert Akroyd Stuart

Akroyd-Stuart's compression ignition engine (as opposed to spark-ignition
Spark-ignition
The term spark-ignition engine refers to internal combustion engines, usually petrol engines, where the combustion process of the air-fuel mixture is ignited by a spark from a spark plug...

) was patented two years earlier than Diesel's similar engine; Diesel's patentable idea was to increase the pressure. The hot bulb engine
Hot bulb engine
The hot bulb engine, or hotbulb or heavy oil engine is a type of internal combustion engine. It is an engine in which fuel is ignited by being brought into contact with a red-hot metal surface inside a bulb....

, due to the lower pressures used (around 90 PSI). as opposed to the Diesel engine's c. 500 PSI, had only about a 12% thermal efficiency
Thermal efficiency
In thermodynamics, the thermal efficiency is a dimensionless performance measure of a device that uses thermal energy, such as an internal combustion engine, a boiler, a furnace, or a refrigerator for example.-Overview:...

 versus more than 50% for some large Diesels.
Details of the claim that a patent submitted by Herbert Akroyd Stuart
Herbert Akroyd Stuart
Herbert Akroyd-Stuart was an English inventor who is noted for his invention of the hot bulb engine, or heavy oil engine.-Life:...

 has pre-dated that of Rudolf Diesel can be found under the name of that inventor.

The high compression and thermal efficiency is what distinguishes the patent of Diesel from a hot bulb engine
Hot bulb engine
The hot bulb engine, or hotbulb or heavy oil engine is a type of internal combustion engine. It is an engine in which fuel is ignited by being brought into contact with a red-hot metal surface inside a bulb....

 patent.

See also

  • Rudolf-Diesel-Medaille
    Rudolf-Diesel-Medaille
    The Rudolf-Diesel-Medaille is an award by the German Institute for Inventions in memory of Rudolf Diesel for inventions and the entrepreneural and economical implications accounting to the laureate...

    , German award in memory of Rudolf Diesel
  • History of the internal combustion engine
    History of the internal combustion engine
    Although various forms of internal combustion engines were developed before the 19th century, their use was hindered until the commercial drilling and production of petroleum began in the mid-1850s...

  • German inventors and discoverers
    German inventors and discoverers
    This is a list of German inventors and discoverers. The following list comprises people from Germany or German-speaking Europe, also of people of predominantly German heritage, in alphabetical order of the surname. The main section includes existing articles, indicated by blue links, and possibly...


External links


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