Diesel, Rudolph Christian Karl

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b. 1858 Paris, France
d. 1913 at sea, in the English Channel
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German inventor of the Diesel or Compression Ignition engine.
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A German born in Paris, he was educated in Augsburg and later in Munich, where he graduated first in his class. There he took some courses under Professor Karl von Linde, pioneer of mechanical refrigeration and an authority on thermodynamics, who pointed out the low efficiency of the steam engine. He went to work for the Linde Ice Machine Company as an engineer and later as Manager; there he conceived a new basic cycle and worked out its thermodynamics, which he published in 1893 as "The theory and construction of a rational heat motor". Compressing air adiabatically to one-sixteenth of its volume caused the temperature to rise to 1,000°F (540°C). Injected fuel would then ignite automatically without any electrical system. He obtained permission to use the laboratories of the Augsburg-Nuremburg Engine Works to build a single-cylinder prototype. On test it blew up, nearly killing Diesel. He proved his principle, however, and obtained financial support from the firm of Alfred Krupp. The design was refined until successful and in 1898 an engine was put on display in Munich with the result that many business people invested in Diesel and his engine and its worldwide production. Diesel made over a million dollars out of the invention. The heart of the engine is the fuel-injection pump, which operates at a pressure of c.500 psi (35 kg/cm). The first English patent for the engine was in 1892. The firms in Augsburg sent him abroad to sell his engine; he persuaded the French to adopt it for submarines, Germany having refused this. Diesel died in 1913 in mysterious circumstances, vanishing from the Harwich-Antwerp ferry.
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Further Reading
E.Diesel, 1937, Diesel, derMensch, das Werk, das Schicksal, Hamburg. J.S.Crowther, 1959, Six Great Engineers, London.
John F.Sandfort, 1964, Heat Engines.
IMcN

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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