Published: Jan 2008
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THE DIESEL ENGINE IS A TYPE OF INTERNAL COMbustion engine. More specifically, it is a compression ignition engine in which the fuel is ignited by exposure to the high temperature and pressure of a compressed gas instead of a separate source of ignition such as a spark plug, as is the case of gasoline engines. The diesel cycle was invented in 1892 by Rudolf Diesel, and he received a patent for the diesel engine in 1893. Diesel experimented and built working models of his engine, the first model running under its own power with a 26% efficiency. By 1897, he ran the “first diesel engine suitable for practical use,” which operated at a 75% efficiency. In 1898, he demonstrated his engine at the Exhibition Fair in Paris, fueled by peanut oil, a renewable biomass fuel, which was his original intent. The early diesel engines were not small or light enough for anything but stationary use due to the size of the fuel injection pump. Diesel engines were produced primarily for industry and shipping in the early 1900s. Ships and submarines benefited greatly from the efficiency of the new diesel engine which began gaining popularity. The 1920s brought a new injection pump design that allowed the introduction of fuel as it entered the engine without the need of pressurized air and its accompanying tank. The engine was now manageable in size and small enough to be used in vehicles. During the mid-1920s, trucks using diesel engines became available. In 1936, Mercedez Benz built the first automobile with a diesel engine. The development and the use of diesel engines in North America were largely due to the efforts of Clessie L. Cummins who, after he purchased the rights to the diesel engine in 1919, had worked with diesel engine problems prevailing at the time. Over the years, Cummins, founder of the Cummins Corporation, has continued to improve the efficiency of the diesel engine, providing technological innovations that set a high standard for the industry, exceeding the requirements of the Clean Air Act of 1970.
Montemayor, Rey G.
Chief Chemist, Imperial Oil Ltd., Sarnia, Ontario