The diesel engine is a type of the internal combustion engine (the engine that burns fuel internally). It was invented by a German engineer Rudolf Diesel, named after him. The diesel engine was designed to improve the efficiency (term used to define how much output we get from input) of the internal combustion engine. Other engines were, a steam engine that has an efficiency of nearly 6% and the gasoline engine having an efficiency of 12%. The diesel engine that was designed by Mr. Diesel increased the efficiency up to 26%. It was a major breakthrough in engineering field

How Diesel Engine was invented

Rudolf Diesel

Rudolf Diesel had started his career by working as a refrigerant engineer before moving towards the improvement of the combustion engines. Diesel first worked on improving the steam power using the vapors of ammonia but unfortunately, his test engine exploded. Which made him seriously injured.

After recovery from his injuries, he left working on the steam engines. He started working on the theory that “Highly compressed air cause a better combustion process”. Diesel set up his laboratory and worked for 8 years in constructing the working engine that can use compression ignition in its combustion process. He finally constructed the engine known as the diesel engine, naming after himself, and got a patent for his invention in 1894. The theoretical efficiency of the diesel engine was 75%, but diesel reached only at 26.2%. However, its efficiency was better than other engines in use at that time. There were more than 70,000 working diesel engines around the world by the end of 1912. Diesel engines allowed to perform heavy duty tasks much more economically.

How Diesel Engine Works

First, the air is taken in the cylinder during the suction stroke. Then compression stroke begins and highly compress the air so that its temperature rises and becomes so hot that it can ignite the fuel. At the end of the compression cycle, fuel is sprayed through the injector. The fuel ignites when it comes in contact with the air that has been heated due to compression. As a result, the temperature and pressure of the gasses in the cylinder increased and the piston is forced to move downward, generating the power. The waste gasses are then exhausted in the exhaustion stroke. Then the cycle again repeats from the suction of air and continues to do so.

Cite this Page

Abdul Wahab, "Diesel Engine," in science4fun - Learn Science with Experiments and Topics, August 31, 2018,

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