What is a Diesel Engine?

L. S. Wynn
L. S. Wynn

The diesel engine is a type of internal combustion engine that was invented by Rudolf Diesel. He received a patent for the diesel engine in 1892 and the primary goal was to create an efficient alternative to the gasoline engine.

Diesel engines require diesel fuel.
Diesel engines require diesel fuel.

Both gasoline engines and diesel engines work by creating a controlled explosion in a sealed piston chamber. The small explosion rapidly moves the piston which in turn rotates the output shaft. In a gasoline engine, a mixture of fuel and air are injected into the chamber and then ignited with a spark created by a sparkplug. A diesel engine, on the other hand, does not rely on a sparkplug to ignite the mixture. Fuel is forced into the chamber and the high pressure generates enough heat to ignite the fuel/air mixture.

On a diesel-electric locomotive, a diesel engine with reciprocating pistons provides power to an electric traction motor that turns the unit's wheels.
On a diesel-electric locomotive, a diesel engine with reciprocating pistons provides power to an electric traction motor that turns the unit's wheels.

Some diesel engines rely on a glow plug to heat the chamber to minimize the amount of pressure required for the engine to turn. Without such an added heat source, the pressure required to achieve ignition (especially when the engine is cold) would be prohibitively high.

Diesel is used to fuel vehicles such as diesel-electric locomotives.
Diesel is used to fuel vehicles such as diesel-electric locomotives.

Diesel engines require diesel fuel for the combustion process to function properly. Diesel fuel is cheaper than regular gasoline because less refining is required. In addition, diesel engines are more efficient and therefore diesel cars get better mileage than their gasoline counterparts.

Car and truck engines, including diesel ones, use many types of seals called gaskets that help prevent leakage of gases and fluids.
Car and truck engines, including diesel ones, use many types of seals called gaskets that help prevent leakage of gases and fluids.
Inhaling exhaust fumes expelled from a diesel engine may cause breathing difficulties.
Inhaling exhaust fumes expelled from a diesel engine may cause breathing difficulties.

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