How the Diesel Engine works
It has been 114 years since Rudolph Diesel applied for a patent for his new improved engine. It was hoped to replace the gasoline engine but as we can all see that this has not happened. The gasoline engine having just been invented in 1876 was still considered inefficient in fuel consumption and power. An evaluation of each engine’s performance tells a story that is difficult to reconcile with the way things have shaken out in the beginning of the 21st Century. The invention of the Diesel offered the world a far more efficient and effective fuel based engine. It actually provides more horsepower per gallon or liter than a gasoline. This is why diesel engines power our large earth moving equipment, trucks, marine engines, low mileage cars and now aircraft.
The diesel is a combustion injection engine. Unlike the gasoline engine, air is compressed first and then the fuel is injected into it. The compressed air is hot enough to ignite the diesel fuel without the use of a sparkplug. Diesel engines developed out of the earlier work surrounding two engines; the original diesel design and the solid injection system of Herbert Akroyd Stuart created in his hot bulb engine. This means that the upward stroke of the diesel engine compresses the air to where its’ temperature is between 1300-1650° F. When the piston has reached the top of its’ upward stroke, diesel fuel is then injected, combustion occurs, pressure increases and pushes the cylinder downwards. This motion is transmitted by means of the connecting rods to the crankshaft which itself turns thus transmitting rotating power to a drive shaft which powers ships, cars, generators, aircraft and even motorcycles.
During cold weather, diesel fuel thickens when the wax crystallizes. It becomes a gel and the fuel injection will not easily work. Technological advances have made this a problem of the past. The fuel lines and fuel filter can be pre-warmed, others use a glow plug in the combustion chamber to pre-heat its’ walls, some use resistive heaters in the intake manifold to warm air taken into the combustion chambers and engine block heaters are used in areas like Kansas or Nebraska when automobiles are left in the cold overnight.
Diesel engine speed used to be controlled by governing the rate of fuel through a gear system. Today the use of electronically controlled engines ECM (electronic control module) allows diesel engines to adjust their timing to start according to the environmental conditions of heat and cold, regulate the engine speed in terms of RPM (revolutions per minute) and maintain fuel economy.
Diesel engines may not have beaten its’ chief contender, the gasoline engine, but it has kept ahead in terms of heavy machine and naval engines. It has recently performed outstandingly in the area of remotely piloted vehicle engines, set amazing land speed records for racecars and motorcycles. The diesel engine has improved amazingly in the past 114 years. The use of electronics has given all engines abilities of fuel conservation unheard of in past years. This makes the diesel engine a real budget-winning contender. This year the new 2006, Volkswagen diesel won fourth place in the best mileage evaluation according to http://www.fueleconomy.gov. Diesels may prove to be the green vehicle engine of choice in the future since they have very little carbon monoxide emissions. Catalytic converters and diesel particulate air filters have made diesel engines free from particulate, nitrogen and sulfur oxides. Diesel engines may prove to be the easiest solution to greenhouse gases.
About the Author: John Stafford is the webmaster and a contributor for http://www.diesel-generator-central.com and http://www.diesel-performance-pros.com