Diesel engine

Diesel′s second prototype. On 17 February 1894, this engine ran under its own power for the first time.[1]
First fully functional Diesel engine, built in October 1896.[2]
Diesel engine built by Langen & Wolf under licence, 1898.

The diesel engine (also known as a compression-ignition or CI engine), named after Rudolf Diesel, is an internal combustion engine in which ignition of the fuel, which is injected into the combustion chamber, is caused by the elevated temperature of the air in the cylinder due to the mechanical compression (adiabatic compression). Diesel engines work by compressing only the air. This increases the air temperature inside the cylinder to such a high degree that atomised diesel fuel injected into the combustion chamber ignites spontaneously. This contrasts with spark-ignition engines such as a petrol engine (gasoline engine) or gas engine (using a gaseous fuel as opposed to petrol), which use a spark plug to ignite an air-fuel mixture. In diesel engines, glow plugs (combustion chamber pre-warmers) may be used to aid starting in cold weather, or when the engine uses a lower compression-ratio, or both. The original diesel engine operates on the "constant pressure" cycle of gradual combustion and produces no audible knock.

A diesel engine built by MAN AG in 1906
Detroit Diesel timing
Fairbanks Morse model 32

The diesel engine has the highest thermal efficiency (engine efficiency) of any practical internal or external combustion engine due to its very high expansion ratio and inherent lean burn which enables heat dissipation by the excess air. A small efficiency loss is also avoided compared to two-stroke non-direct-injection gasoline engines since unburned fuel is not present at valve overlap and therefore no fuel goes directly from the intake/injection to the exhaust. Low-speed diesel engines (as used in ships and other applications where overall engine weight is relatively unimportant) can have a thermal efficiency that exceeds 50%;[3][4] it can reach up to as high as 55%.[5]

Diesel engines may be designed as either two-stroke or four-stroke cycles. They were originally used as a more efficient replacement for stationary steam engines. Since the 1910s they have been used in submarines and ships. Use in locomotives, trucks, heavy equipment and electricity generation plants followed later. In the 1930s, they slowly began to be used in a few automobiles. Since the 1970s, the use of diesel engines in larger on-road and off-road vehicles in the US increased. According to the British Society of Motor Manufacturing and Traders, the EU average for diesel cars accounts for 50% of the total sold, including 70% in France and 38% in the UK.[6]

The world's largest diesel engine put in service in 2006 is currently a Wärtsilä-Sulzer RTA96-C Common Rail marine diesel, which produces a peak power output of 84.42 MW (113,210 hp) at 102 rpm (which translates to an energy of 49.7 mega Joules (MJ) per revolution).[7][8]


Diesel's first experimental engine 1893

The definition of a diesel engine to many has become an engine that uses compression ignition. To some it may be an engine that uses heavy fuel oil; to others it is an engine that does not use spark ignition. However, the original cycle proposed by Rudolf Diesel in 1892 was a constant temperature cycle (a cycle based on the Carnot theory) that would require much higher compression than what is needed for compression ignition. Diesel's idea was to compress the air so tightly that the temperature of the air would exceed that of combustion. In his 1892 US patent (granted in 1895) #542846 Diesel describes the compression required for his cycle:

"pure atmospheric air is compressed, according to curve 1 2, to such a degree that, before ignition or combustion takes place, the highest pressure of the diagram and the highest temperature are obtained-that is to say, the temperature at which the subsequent combustion has to take place, not the burning or igniting point. To make this more clear, let it be assumed that the subsequent combustion shall take place at a temperature of 700°. Then in that case the initial pressure must be sixty-four atmospheres, or for 800° centigrade the pressure must be ninety atmospheres, and so on. Into the air thus compressed is then gradually introduced from the exterior finely divided fuel, which ignites on introduction, since the air is at a temperature far above the igniting-point of the fuel. The characteristic features of the cycle according to my present invention are therefore, increase of pressure and temperature up to the maximum, not by combustion, but prior to combustion by mechanical compression of air, and there upon the subsequent performance of work without increase of pressure and temperature by gradual combustion during a prescribed part of the stroke determined by the cut-oil".[9]

In later years Diesel realized his original cycle would not work and he adopted the constant pressure cycle. Diesel describes the cycle in his 1895 patent application. Notice that there is no longer a mention of compression temperatures exceeding the temperature of combustion. Now all that is mentioned is the compression must be high enough for ignition.

"1. In an internal-combustion engine, the combination of a cylinder and piston constructed and arranged to compress air to a degree producing a temperature above the igniting-point of the fuel, a supply for compressed air or gas; a fuel-supply; a distributing-valve for fuel, a passage from the air supply to the cylinder in communication with the fuel-distributing valve, an inlet to the cylinder in communication with the air-supply and with the fuel-valve, and a cut-oil, substantially as described." See US patent # 608845 filed 1895 / granted 1898[10][11][12]

In 1892, Diesel received patents in Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States for "Method of and Apparatus for Converting Heat into Work".[13] In 1893, he described a "slow-combustion engine" that compressed air, thereby raising its temperature above the ignition point of the fuel, then gradually introducing fuel while letting the mixture expand "against resistance sufficiently to prevent an essential increase of temperature and pressure", then cutting off fuel and "expanding without transfer of heat".[citation needed] In 1894 and 1895, he filed patents and addenda in various countries for his engine; the first patents were issued in Spain (No. 16,654), France (No. 243,531) and Belgium (No. 113,139) in December 1894, and in Germany (No. 86,633) in 1895 and the United States (No. 608,845) in 1898.[14]

On February 17, 1894, the redesigned engine ran for 88 revolutions - one minute;[15] with this news, Maschinefabrik Augsburg's stock rose by 30%, indicative of the tremendous anticipated demands for a more efficient engine. Diesel rushed to complete a working prototype in 1896 in order to maintain the patent. The first engine ready for testing was built on December 31, 1896 (though it was much different engine than the one he had started with). In 1897 — between deal signing[further explanation needed] and brainstorming episodes — he completed an engine which ran 16.93 kW with an efficiency of 16.6%.[16] Diesel was granted the patent and by 1898, had become a millionaire. His engines were used to power pipelines, electric and water plants, automobiles and trucks, and marine craft. They were soon used in mines, oil fields, factories, and transoceanic shipping.[17]



  • 1893: Rudolf Diesel's essay titled Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Motor appeares.[18]
  • 1893: February 23, Rudolf Diesel obtaines a patent (RP 67207) titled "Arbeitsverfahren und Ausführungsart für Verbrennungsmaschinen" (Working Methods and Techniques for Internal Combustion Engines).
  • 1893: July, the first prototype is completed.[19]
  • 1893: August 10, Diesel injects fuel (petrol) for the first time, resulting in combustion, destroying the indicator.[20]
  • 1893: November, Diesel applies for a patent (RP 82168) for a modified combustion process.[21]
  • 1894: February 17, Diesel's second prototype (modification of his first engine) runs for the first time.[17][12]
  • 1895: March 30, Diesel applies for a patent (RP 86633) for a starting process with compressed air.[22]
  • 1895: Diesel applies for a second patent US Patent # 608845[23]
  • 1897: Adolphus Busch licenses rights to the Diesel engine for the US and Canada.[24]
  • 1897: After 4 years Diesel's prototype engine is running and finally ready for efficiency testing and production.[12]


  • 1902: Until 1910, MAN produced 82 copies of the stationary diesel engine.
  • 1903: Two first diesel-powered ships were launched, both for river and canal operations: La Petite-Pierre in France, powered by Dyckhoff-built diesels, and Vandal tanker in Russia, powered by Swedish-built diesels with an electrical transmission.
  • 1904: The French launch the first diesel submarine, the Aigrette.[25]
  • 1905: The first diesel engine turbochargers and intercoolers were manufactured by Büchi (CH),[26] as well as a scroll-type supercharger from Creux (F) company.
  • 1908: Prosper L'Orange and Deutz developed a precisely controlled injection pump with a needle injection nozzle.
  • 1909: The prechamber with a hemispherical combustion chamber was developed by Prosper L'Orange with Benz.


  • 1910: The Norwegian sailing research ship Fram was fitted with an auxiliary diesel engine, and was thus the first ocean-going ship with a diesel engine. The Dutch tanker Vulcanus became the first ocean-going ship exclusively powered by a diesel engine.[27]
  • 1912: The Danish built MS Selandia, the most advanced ocean-going diesel motor ship in her time.[27] The first locomotive with a diesel engine also appeared.
  • 1913: US Navy submarines used NELSECO units. Rudolf Diesel died mysteriously when he crossed the English Channel on the SS Dresden.
  • 1914: German U-boats were powered by MAN diesels.[28]
  • 1919: Prosper L'Orange obtained a patent on a prechamber insert and made a needle injection nozzle.[29][30] First diesel engine from Cummins.[31][32]


One of the eight-cylinder 3200 I.H.P. Harland and Wolff—Burmeister & Wain diesel engines installed in the motorship Glenapp. This was the highest powered diesel engine yet (1920) installed in a ship. Note man standing lower right for size comparison.
  • 1921: Prosper L'Orange built a continuous variable output injection pump.
  • 1922: The first vehicle with a (pre-chamber) diesel engine was Agricultural Tractor Type 6 of the Benz Söhne agricultural tractor OE Benz Sendling.
  • 1923: The first truck with pre-chamber diesel engine made by MAN and Benz. Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft testing the first air-injection diesel-engined truck.
  • 1924: The introduction on the truck market of the diesel engine by commercial truck manufacturers in the IAA. Fairbanks-Morse starts building diesel engines.
  • 1924-1925 Fairbanks Morse introduced the 2 stroke Y-VA and Model 32. It was the first cold start diesel manufactured by Fairbanks and would become an icon of American industrial power.[33]
  • 1927: First truck injection pump and injection nozzles of Bosch. First passenger car prototype of Stoewer.


  • 1930s: Caterpillar started building diesels for their tractors.
  • 1930: First US diesel-power passenger car (Cummins powered Packard) built in Columbus, Indiana (US).[34]
  • 1930: Beardmore Tornado diesel engines power the British airship R101.
  • 1932: Introduction of the strongest diesel truck in the world by MAN with 160 hp (120 kW).
  • 1933: First European passenger cars with diesel engines (Citroën Rosalie); Citroën used an engine of the English diesel pioneer Sir Harry Ricardo.[35] The car did not go into production due to legal restrictions on the use of diesel engines.
  • 1933: Yanmar is the first Japanese company to introduce the "HB" series for commercial use.
  • 1933: General Motors uses its new roots-blown, unit-injected two-stroke Winton 201A Diesel engine to power its automotive assembly exhibit at the Chicago World's Fair (A Century of Progress). The engine represented a major improvement in power-to-weight ratio and output flexibility over previous generation diesels, drawing the interest of railroad executiveRalph Budd as a prime mover for lightweight trains.
  • 1934: The Budd Company builds the first streamlined, stainless steel passenger train in the US, the Pioneer Zephyr, using a Winton engine.
  • 1934: First turbo diesel engine for a railway train by Maybach. First streamlined, stainless steel passenger train in the US, the Pioneer Zephyr, using a Winton engine.
  • 1934: First tank equipped with diesel engine, the Polish 7TP.
  • 1934–35: Junkers Motorenwerke in Germany started production of the Jumo aviation diesel engine family, the most famous of these being the Jumo 205, of which over 900 examples were produced by the outbreak of World War II.
Rudolf Diesel's 1893 patent on his engine design
  • 1936: Mercedes-Benz built the 260D diesel car.[36] AT&SF inaugurated the diesel train Super Chief. The airship Hindenburg was powered by diesel engines. First series of passenger cars manufactured with diesel engine (Mercedes-Benz 260 D, Hanomag and Saurer). Daimler Benz airship diesel engine 602LOF6 for the LZ129 Hindenburg airship.
  • 1937: The Soviet Union developed the Kharkiv model V-2 diesel engine, later used in the T-34 tanks, widely regarded as the best tank chassis of World War II.
  • 1937: BMW 114 experimental airplane diesel engine development.
  • 1938: General Motors forms the GM Diesel Division, later to become Detroit Diesel, and introduces the Series 71 inline high-speed medium-horsepower two stroke engine, suitable for road vehicles and marine use.
  • 1938: GM introduces the 567 two stroke medium-speed high-horsepower engine for locomotive, ship and stationary applications; These engines utilize GM's patented Unit injector. The 567 established the reliability of diesel power in rail service, lending impetus to the dieselization of American railroads.
  • 1938: First turbo diesel engine of Saurer.
Fairbanks-Morse opposed piston diesel engines on the WWII submarine USS Pampanito (SS-383) (on display in San Francisco)



  • 1953: Turbo-diesel truck for Mercedes in small series.
  • 1954: Turbo-diesel truck in mass production by Volvo. First diesel engine with an overhead cam shaft of Daimler Benz.[38]
  • 1958 EMD introduces turbocharging for its 567 series of medium speed, high horsepower locomotive, stationary and marine engines. Every subsequent engine (645 and 710) would incorporate this turbocharger.



  • 1973: DAF produced an air-cooled diesel engine.
  • 1976 February: Tested a diesel engine for the Volkswagen Golf passenger car. The Cummins Common Rail injection system was further developed by the ETH Zurich from 1976 to 1992.
  • 1978: Mercedes-Benz produced the first passenger car with a turbo-diesel engine (Mercedes-Benz 300 SD).[36] Oldsmobile introduced the first passenger car diesel engine produced by an American car company.
  • 1979: Peugeot 604, the first turbo-diesel car to be sold in Europe.[40]


  • 1985: ATI Intercooler diesel engine from DAF. European Truck Common Rail system with the IFA truck type W50 introduced.
  • 1986: BMW 524td, the world's first passenger car equipped with an electronically controlled injection pump (developed by Bosch).[41] The same year, the Fiat Croma was the first passenger car in the world to have a direct injection (turbocharged) diesel engine.[42]
  • 1987: Most powerful production truck with a 460 hp (340 kW) MAN diesel engine.
  • 1989: Audi 100, the first passenger car in the world with a turbocharged direct injection and electronic control diesel engine.[43]


  • 1991: European emission standards Euro 1 met with the truck diesel engine of Scania.
  • 1993: Pump nozzle injection introduced in Volvo truck engines.
  • 1994: Unit injector system by Bosch for diesel engines. Mercedes-Benz unveils the first automotive diesel engine with four valves per cylinder.[44] Medium speed high horsepower locomotive, ship and stationary diesel engines have utilized four valves per cylinder since at least 1938.
  • 1995: First successful use of common rail in a production vehicle, by Denso in Japan, Hino "Rising Ranger" truck.
  • 1996: First diesel engine with direct injection and four valves per cylinder, used in the Opel Vectra.[45]
  • 1997: First common rail diesel engine in a passenger car, the Alfa Romeo 156.[46]
  • 1998: BMW made history by winning the 24 Hours Nürburgring race with the 320d, powered by a two-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine. The combination of high-performance with better fuel efficiency allowed the team to make fewer pit stops during the long endurance race. Volkswagen introduces three and four-cylinder turbodiesel engines, with Bosch-developed electronically controlled unit injectors.[47] Smart presented the first common rail three-cylinder diesel engine used in a passenger car (the Smart City Coupé).[48]
  • 1999: Euro 3 of Scania and the first common rail truck diesel engine of Renault.


  • 2002: A street-driven Dodge Dakota pickup with a 735 horsepower (548 kW) diesel engine built at Gale banks engineering hauls its own service trailer to the Bonneville Salt Flats and set an FIA land speed record as the world's fastest pickup truck with a one-way run of 222 mph (357 km/h) and a two-way average of 217 mph (349 km/h).
  • 2003: Piezoelectric injector technology by Bosch,[49] Siemens and Delphi.[50]
  • 2004: In Western Europe, the proportion of passenger cars with diesel engine exceeded 50%. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system in Mercedes, Euro 4 with EGR system and particle filters of MAN. Audi A8 3.0 TDI is the first production vehicle in the world with common rail injection and piezoelectric injectors.[51]
  • 2006: Audi R10 TDI won the 12 Hours of Sebring and defeated all other engine concepts. The same car won the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans. Euro 5 for all Iveco trucks. JCB Dieselmax broke the FIA diesel land speed record from 1973, eventually setting the new record at over 350 mph (563 km/h).
  • 2007: Lombardini develops a new 440 cc twin-cyinder common rail diesel engine,[52] which two years later sees application in automotive use, in the Ligier microcars.[53] At the time, this engine was considered to be the smallest twin-cyinder engine with a common rail system.[54]
  • 2008: Subaru introduced the first horizontally opposed diesel engine to be fitted to a passenger car. This is a Euro 5 compliant engine with an EGR system. SEAT wins the drivers' title and the manufacturers' title in the FIA World Touring Car Championship with the SEAT León TDI. The achievements are repeated in the following season.
  • 2009: Volkswagen won the 2009 Dakar Rally held in Argentina and Chile. The first diesel to do so. Race Touareg 2 models finished first and second. The same year, Volvo is claimed the world's strongest truck with their FH16 700. An inline 6-cylinder, 16 L (976 cu in) 700 hp (522 kW) diesel engine producing 3150 Nm (2323.32 lb•ft) of torque and fully complying with Euro 5 emission standards.[55]


Other Languages
Afrikaans: Dieselenjin
العربية: محرك ديزل
azərbaycanca: Dizel mühərriki
беларуская: Дызельны рухавік
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Дызэльны рухавік
bosanski: Dizelski motor
català: Motor dièsel
čeština: Vznětový motor
Deutsch: Dieselmotor
español: Motor diésel
Esperanto: Dizelmotoro
euskara: Diesel motor
français: Moteur Diesel
한국어: 디젤 엔진
हिन्दी: डीज़ल इंजन
hrvatski: Dieselov motor
Bahasa Indonesia: Motor bakar diesel
íslenska: Dísilvél
italiano: Motore Diesel
עברית: מנוע דיזל
Basa Jawa: Mesin diesel
latviešu: Dīzeļdzinējs
magyar: Dízelmotor
Bahasa Melayu: Enjin diesel
Nederlands: Dieselmotor
norsk nynorsk: Dieselmotor
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Dizel
پنجابی: ڈیزل انجن
português: Motor a diesel
română: Motor diesel
Simple English: Diesel engine
slovenčina: Naftový motor
slovenščina: Dizel
српски / srpski: Dizel-motor
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Dizel-motor
svenska: Dieselmotor
Türkçe: Dizel motor
українська: Дизельний двигун
Tiếng Việt: Động cơ Diesel
吴语: 柴油引擎
中文: 柴油引擎