Diesel History

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The modern diesel engine came about as the result of the internal combustion principles first proposed by Sadi Carnot in the early 19th century.  Dr. Rudolf Diesel applied Sadi Carnot's principles into a patented cycle or method of combustion that has become known as the "diesel" cycle.  His patented engine operated when the heat generated during the compression of the air fuel charge caused ignition of the mixture, which then expanded at a constant pressure during the full power stroke of the engine.

Dr. Diesel's first engine ran on coal dust and used a compression pressure of 1500 psi to increase its theoretical efficiency.  Also, his first engine did not have provisions for any type of cooling system.  Consequently, between the extreme pressure and the lack of cooling, the engine exploded and almost killed its inventor.  After recovering from his injuries, Diesel tried again using oil as the fuel, adding a cooling water jacket around the cylinder, and lowering the compression pressure to approximately 550 psi.  This combination eventually proved successful. Production rights to the engine were sold to Adolphus Bush, who built the first diesel engines for commercial use, installing them in his St. Louis brewery to drive various pumps.