The diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses compression ignition, in which fuel ignites as it is injected into air in the combustion chamber that has been compressed to temperatures high enough to cause ignition. By contrast, petrol engines utilize the Otto cycle in which fuel and air are typically mixed before entering the combustion chamber and ignited by a spark plug, under which conditions compression ignition is undesirable (see engine knocking). The engine operates using the Diesel cycle named after German engineer Rudolf Diesel, who invented it in 1892 based on the hot bulb engine and for which he received a patent on February 23, 1893. Diesel had earlier experimented with the use of coal dust as a fuel in a similar design of engine. At the bequest of the French Government the Otto company demonstrated it at the 1900 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) using peanut oil (see biodiesel). The French government were looking at using peanut oil for a locally produced fuel in their African colonies. Diesel later extensively tested the use of plant oils in his engine and began to actively promote the use of these fuels.
It is possible Rudolph Diesel was not first to invent the diesel. His patent (No. 7241) was filed in 1892. However, Herbert Akroyd Stuart and Charles Richard Binney had already obtained a patent (No. 7146) in 1890 entitled: “Improvements in Engines Operated by the Explosion of Mixtures of Combustible Vapour or Gas and Air” which described the world’s first compression-ignition engine.. Akroyd-Stuart constructed the first compression-ignition oil engine in Bletchley, England in 1891 and leased the rights to Richard Hornsby & Sons, who by July 1892, five years before Diesel’s prototype, had a diesel engine working for Newport Sanitary Authority. By 1896, diesel tractors and locomotives were being built in some quantity in Grantham. Importantly, Diesel’s airblast injection system did not become part of subsequent ‘diesel’ engines, with direct-injection (DI) (as found in Akroyd-Stuart’s engine) used instead, developed by Robert Bosch GmbH in 1927.
Early history timeline
[li]1862: Nicolaus Otto develops his coal gas engine, similar to a modern gasoline engine. [/ul][ul][/li][li]1891: Herbert Akroyd Stuart, of Bletchley perfects his oil engine, and leases rights to Hornsby of England to build engines. They build the first cold start, compression ignition engines.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1892: Hornsby engine No. 101 is built and installed in a waterworks. It was in the MAN truck museum in Stockport, and is now in the Anson Engine Museum in Poynton. T.H. Barton at Hornsbys builds an experimental version where the vaporiser was replaced with a cylinder head and the pressure increased. Automatic ignition was achieved through compression alone (the first time this had happened), and the engine ran for six hours. Diesel would achieve much the same thing five years later, claiming the achievement for himself.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1892: Rudolf Diesel develops the principles of his proposed Carnot heat engine type motor which would burn powdered coal dust. He is employed by refrigeration genius Carl von Linde, then Munich iron manufacturer MAN AG, and later by the Sulzer engine company of Switzerland. He borrows ideas from them and leaves a legacy with all firms.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1892: John Froelich builds his first oil engine powered farm tractor.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1893: August 10th - Diesel builds a working version of his ideas.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1894: Witte, Reid, and Fairbanks start building oil engines with a variety of ignition systems.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1896: Hornsby builds diesel tractors and railway engines.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1897: Winton produces and drives the first US built gas automobile; he later builds diesel plants. On February 17th, Diesel builds his first working prototype, which narrowly avoids a catastrophic explosion in Augsburg. The engine was not really ready for market until 1908, thanks to other people’s improvements.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1897: Mirrlees, Watson & Yaryan build the first British diesel engine under license from Rudolf Diesel. This is now displayed in the Anson Engine Museum at Poynton, Cheshire, UK. [/ul][ul][/li][li]1898: Busch installs a Rudolf Diesel type engine in his brewery in St. Louis. It is the first in the United States. Rudolf Diesel perfects his compression start engine, patents, and licences it. This engine, pictured above, is in a German museum. Burmeister & Wain (B & W) of Copenhagen in Denmark buy rights to build diesel engines.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1899: Diesel licences his engine to builders Krupp and Sulzer, who become famous builders.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1902: F. Rundlof invents the two-stroke crankcase, scavenged hot bulb engine.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1902: A company named Forest City started manufacturing diesel generators.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1903: Ship Gjoa transits the ice-filled Northwest Passage, aided with a Dan kerosene engine.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1904: French build the first diesel submarine, the Z.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1908: Bolinder-Munktell starts building two stroke hot-bulb engines.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1912: First diesel ship MS Selandia is built. SS Fram, polar explorer Amundsen’s flagship, is converted to a AB Atlas diesel.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1913: Fairbanks Morse starts building its Y model semi-diesel engine. US Navy submarines use NELSECO units.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1914: German U-Boats are powered by MAN diesels. War service proves engine’s reliability.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1920s: Fishing fleets convert to oil engines. Atlas-Imperial of Oakland, Union, and Lister diesels appear.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1922: Mack Boring & Parts Company is established.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1924: First diesel trucks appear.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1928: Canadian National Railways employ a diesel shunter in their yards.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1930: Edward McGovern Sr., founder of Mack Boring & Parts Company opens the first diesel-only engine institute in North America.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1930s: Clessie Cummins starts with Dutch diesel engines, and then builds his own into trucks and a Duesenberg luxury car at the Daytona speedway.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1930s: Caterpillar starts building diesels for their tractors.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1933: Citroën introduced the Rosalie, a passenger car with the world’s first commercially available diesel engine developed with Harry Ricardo.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1934: General Motors starts a GM diesel research facility. It builds diesel railroad engines—The Pioneer Zephyr—and goes on to found the General Motors Electro-Motive Division, which becomes important building engines for landing craft and tanks in the Second World War. GM then applies this knowledge to market control with its famous Green Leakers for buses and railroad engines.[/ul][ul][/li][li]1936: Mercedes-Benz builds the 260D diesel car. AT&SF inaugurates the diesel train Super Chief.[/ul][ul][/li][*]1936: Airship Hindenburg is powered by diesel engines[/ul]