Rudolf Diesel

A Short Biography of Rudolf Diesel

Rudolf Diesel is the father of diesel engines. Rudolf Diesel was born on the 18th of March 1858 in the Victorian city of Paris, France. His death on the 29th night of September in 1913 on the English Channel, was perhaps an example of industrial or political espionage of the time, but the events leading up to his untimely death are mysterious. From the time he was born to the moment of death, the world Rudolf Diesel knew and lived in was in constant political, social and economical turmoil. Perhaps through his scientific, theoretical and economical philosophies, the world would have been different and history as we know it could have told a less bloody tale. But the fact remains, that if we choose to learn from his ideas, we can still make the world a better place for the here, now and future generations to come.

Immigrants from the city of Augsburg, Bavaria, the Diesel family settled in the city of Paris early in the birth of the Victorian Gothic period. Early in 1858 the man who would bring clarity of thought to the world of energy was born. The world was evolving and industry was just beginning to show the power of mass production. Kings and dynasties still believed in the growing power of warfare, and no matter how hard the creative Bavarian elite may have tried, they could not inhibit the historical Franco-German war of 1870. The Diesel family found themselves deported to London. As Rudolf Diesel’s father was of Augsburg, he had him sent there to study.

Rudolf Diesel studied engineering from the first days of technical high school and in 1880 he received a job working for Carl von Linde in Paris. His personal fascination with the theoretical efficiency of the Carnot Cycle led to the eventual development of the internal combustion engine, in 1890 (before which he was experimenting with an expansion engine using ammonia). By 1892 his paper on the “Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Motor” had the support of German industrialists, two of which (Maschinenfabrik Augsburg and Krupp) offered resources to produce a series of his machines.

By 1897 Rudolf Diesel had a working 25 horsepower, four-stroke, single vertical cylinder compression engine. Later in 1900 at the World Fair, the fame of his practical and even more efficient design by this time began to make a fortune. So influential was the Diesel engine, that nations and industrial tycoons began to imagine once again the wealth of conquest through war. Perhaps, by 1913, there were no longer any Kings with power enough to act on war, but those men of wealthy, royal and privileged background were now beginning to wage a war among themselves, a war for space on an evil market based on consumption.

By 1913 the economical situation had peaked so high, that the new kings were now wealthy owners of industries the world over. Rudolf Diesel knew this so very well, yet perhaps due to innocence, or faith he believed that the proper way to fuel his engine was through an energy that could sustain agriculture as well as industry, but price and war spoke louder and on the cold night of the 29th of September in 1913, his body accidentally fell over the side of the ship. Some say that it was suicide, others claim he was killed by German oil tycoons or perhaps politicians had him killed not to sell the Rudolf Diesel engine design to the English.


Posted in Biodiesel by admin on November 28, 2005.

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