Mar 18, 2022 at 1:00 AM
  1. TDRComm Staff Member

    “How is an idea created? Maybe sometimes it strikes like lightning, but mostly it will develop slowly through intensive search under numerous mistakes…” - Rudolf Diesel, 1913

    Born in Paris to Bavarian immigrants, 164 years ago today (March 18, 1858) was the namesake of diesel fuel and diesel engines, Rudolf Christian Diesel. We’re honoring him today for his brilliant mind, tenacious spirit and dedication to his pursuit of a new-to-the-world efficient and economical, and powerful transportation power plant.

    Diesel engines have come a long way since the late 1800s when Diesel changed the transportation world, but his end-goals of having both efficiency and power in an engine remain satisfied today. We all experience it every day when we drive our trucks.

    Points of Interest That You May Not Know about Rudolf Diesel:
    • Despite his parent’s protests, by the age of 14 Rudolf Diesel knew he wanted to be an engineer. His first job out of engineering school was working as a refrigeration engineer having studied thermodynamics under the company owner in school.
    • At the time he was developing his early diesel engine prototype, which he referred to as a “Rational Heat Motor”, coal-burning engine technology, notably steam power, was threatened by his dramatically more efficient fuel consumption engine design. At that time, steam power as well as the then-current combustion engines output were incredibly inefficient; steam-powered engines were converting only approximately 10% of heat into useful work. By contrast, Diesel’s new technology would soon improve that number to 38% efficiency.
    • By many accounts, Diesel’s vision for a more efficient and affordable powerplant was rooted in altruistic ideals: he wanted to help individuals and small companies compete with the up-and-coming industrial giants of the Age.
    • Initially designed to run on kerosene, many sources also indicate he used peanut oil, paraffin oil, coal dust, and other options to fuel his prototypes. Further, it is documented that in his later years he pressed for the idea of using peanut oil and other, what we now refer to as “biodiesel” options in order to help preserve the finite resources of the earth.
    • Motor 250/400 – in 1897, after numerous iterations, Diesel creates the first functional diesel engine. The Motor 250/400 was named such that it used a 250mm cylinder bore with a 400mm piston stroke. This first official diesel engine was a naturally-aspirated, water-cooled crankcase-less, low speed, 4-stroke engine.
    • Augustus Busch, of Anheuser-Busch fame, was the first investor to bring Diesel’s technology to the United States.
    • Rudolf Diesel’s death at age 55 (1913) has been considered a controversial and mysterious subject since he disappeared from a steamer ship heading from Antwerp to London. Suicide or murder? The mystery surrounding his death: Burdened with his share of financial problems, he was en route to a meeting with British naval representatives to discuss installing his engine in British submarines just prior to WWI.

    Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house
    to the land I will show you
    …and I will bless you and make your name great.

    From Genesis 12:1– the Bible verse Diesel was asked to recite as a part of his Lutheran confirmation at age 14.


    REFERENCES:
    “Why A Diesel”
    , by Robert Patton – from TDR’s online publication A Dodge/Cummins Turbo Diesel Historical Perspective (available to members only). Pages 4-8
    Diesel’s Engine, Volume One From Conception to 1918, by Lyle Cummins --currently the book does not appear to be in print, however in a quick internet search found copies available for sale in both new and used condition on many different sites such Abe Books, Biblio, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and so on.
    www.bbc.co.uk: BBC World Service: 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy, by Tim Harford, Published online November 19, 2016
    www.thoughtco.com : Rudolf Diesel, Inventor of the Diesel Engine, by Mary Bellis, updated on April 19, 2019
    www.wikipedia.com: Motor 250/400

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    TDRComm , Mar 18, 2022
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