The Basic Diesel Cycles

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The Basic Diesel Cycles
Diesel engines operate under the principle of the internal combustion engine. There are two basic types of diesel engines, two-cycle and four-cycle. An understanding of how each cycle operates is required to understand how to correctly operate and maintain a diesel engine.

A diesel engine is a type of heat engine that uses the internal combustion process to convert the energy stored in the chemical bonds of the fuel into useful mechanical energy. This occurs in two steps. First, the fuel reacts chemically (burns) and releases energy in the form of heat. Second the heat causes the gasses trapped in the cylinder to expand, and the expanding gases, being confined by the cylinder, must move the piston to expand. The reciprocating motion of the piston is then converted into rotational motion by the crankshaft.

To convert the chemical energy of the fuel into useful mechanical energy all internal combustion engines must go through four events: intake, compression, power, and exhaust. How these events are timed and how they occur differentiates the various types of engines.

All diesel engines fall into one of two categories, two-stroke or four-stroke cycle engines. The word cycle refers to any operation or series of events that repeats itself. In the case of a four-stroke cycle engine, the engine requires four strokes of the piston (intake, compression, power, and exhaust) to complete one full cycle. Therefore, it requires two rotations of the crankshaft, or 720° of crankshaft rotation (360° x 2) to complete one cycle. In a two-stroke cycle engine the events (intake, compression, power, and exhaust) occur in only one rotation of the crankshaft, or 360°.