- Category : Engineer
- Type : GP
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX The Plane 1
Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel (March 18, 1858 – September 30, 1913) was a German inventor, famous for the invention of the Diesel engine.
Rudolf Diesel was born in Paris in 1858. His parents were Bavarian immigrants. Rudolf Diesel was educated at Munich Polytechnic. After graduation he was employed as a refrigerator engineer. However, his true love lay in engine design. Rudolf Diesel designed many heat engines, including a solar-powered air engine.
After graduation, he had success 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. His early research into fuel efficiency led him to build a "steam engine" using ammonia vapour. Under test, this exploded with almost fatal consequences. It resulted in many months in the hospital, and a great deal of ill health and eye sight problems in later life.
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.
In 1898, Rudolf Diesel was granted US patent #608,845 for an "internal combustion engine," the Diesel engine, and the first US production of Diesel engines began. By that time, European contracts had already made him a millionaire. His engines were used to power pipelines, electric and water plants, automobiles and trucks, and marine craft, and soon after were used in mines, oil fields, factories, and transoceanic shipping.
The diesel engines of today are refined and improved versions of Rudolf Diesel's original concept. They are often used in submarines, ships, locomotives, and large trucks and in electric generating plants. Although uncommon (but growing in popularity) in the USA, diesel powered passenger cars are extremely popular throughout much of the rest of the world, surpassing 50% market penetration in Europe.
Though best known for his invention of the pressure-ignited heat engine that bears his name, Rudolf Diesel was also a well-respected thermal engineer and a social theorist. Rudolf Diesel's inventions have three points in common: They relate to heat transference by natural physical processes or laws; they involve markedly creative mechanical design; and they were initially motivated by the inventor's concept of sociological needs. Rudolf Diesel originally conceived the diesel engine to enable independent craftsmen and artisans to compete with large industry.
Development of the invention
Diesel spent his months in the hospital reading the technical papers published by Otto. Diesel could see that Otto had trapped his engine into a dead end of fuel efficiency. By premixing the fuel in the air, Otto had limited the compression. The crank then carried round this limit to the expansion ratio of the hot gas.
Diesel knew from Sadi Carnot's three rules on heat engine efficiency that the expansion of the gas was the key to fuel efficiency. Limit the expansion ratio; and Otto had limited the fuel efficiency of his engine. That was the key to Diesel's engine patents; he won his patent on the grounds of liberating the engine from limits to its fuel efficiency.
His answer was simple - only add the fuel when you want to ignite it. With that simple leap of thinking there is suddenly no mechanical limit to the theoretical efficiency.
In 1892, he published a paper on his work, “The Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Engine Substitute for the Steam Engine and Today's Combustion Engines.” February 27, 1892, Diesel applied to the German Patent office for his engine design. On February 23, 1893, he is granted the first patent for his "Working Method and Design for Combustion Engines," German patent #67207, corrected later that year with patent #82168.
Diesel began building a prototype engine, which was ready for testing by July 1893. The engine was fueled by powdered coal injected with compressed air. This machine, a single 10-foot(3 m) iron cylinder with a flywheel at its base, achieved a compression of 80 atmospheres (8100 kPa). After a nearly fatal explosion, the exploding ammonia engine was strictly limited by his boss Linde. Due to these imposed limits, the machine would not power itself, but it did prove that one did not need a spark to have internal combustion.
Diesel was allowed to go further, about seven months later, a major milestone was achieved when he was able to run a single piston engine for one minute on February 17, 1894. This engine only generated 13 horsepower but demonstrated that Diesel's compression ignition principle was a sound one.
He built an improved prototype in early 1897 while working at the Maschinenfabrik Augsburg (from 1906 onward, the MAN) plant at Augsburg. Diesel's engine had some similarities with an engine invented by Herbert Akroyd Stuart in 1890. Diesel was embroiled for some years in various patent disputes and arguments over priority but in the end he prevailed and his invention came to be called the Diesel engine. He continued its development over the next three years, began production (the first commercial engine was at a brewery in the United States), and secured licenses from firms in several countries. He became a millionaire.
Later life and death
Diesel was something of an unstable character, having several nervous breakdowns, and was somewhat paranoid at times. He defended his priority of invention tenaciously. Diesel toured the United States as a lecturer in 1904, and he self-published a two volume work on his social philosophy.
On September 29, 1913, while in Antwerp, Diesel boarded the SS Dresden ferry to cross the English Channel. The next morning, the steward discovered that Diesel's cabin was empty. Diesel's body was found in the Scheldt river on October 18.
One theory in Diesel's death is that he died by suicide, possibly due to being deeply in debt. His family stated that he committed suicide because his invention was stolen and a cross in his journal on the date he died indicates suicide. Also, a briefcase containing a very small sum of money and a large amount of debt-ridden bank statements was left to his wife, Martha.
Another theory revolves around the German military, which was beginning to use his engines on their submarines. Diesel opposed this usage, and the German military may have feared that his invention could wind up powering the British Royal Navy submarine fleet.
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 marketed that it only ran on petroleum based products and his great ideas of a clean burning engine died with him (although see below).
After Diesel's death, the Diesel engine underwent much development, and became a very important replacement for the steam engine in many applications. Because the Diesel engine required a heavier, more robust construction than a gasoline engine, it was unsuitable for applications such as aviation (with the exception of zeppelins). However, the Diesel engine became widespread in many other applications, such as stationary engines, submarines, ships, and much later, locomotives, and in modern times automobiles. Recently, Diesel engines have been designed, certified and flown that have overcome the weight penalty in light aircraft. These engines are designed to run on either Diesel fuel or more commonly jet fuel.
The Diesel engine has the benefit of running on cheaper fuels; Diesel was especially interested in using coal dust or vegetable oil as fuel. Although these fuels were not immediately popular, recent rises in fuel prices coupled with concerns about oil reserves have lead to more widespread use of vegetable oil and biodiesel. The primary source of fuel remains what became known as Diesel fuel, an oil byproduct derived from refinement of petroleum.
Today there is an entire museum dedicated to Rudolf Diesel, and this is situated in Paris, France, and houses a wide range of information related to Rudolf Diesel and the Diesel engine.