History of Diesel

In 1893, German inventor Rudolph Diesel published a paper entitled “The Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Engine,” which described an engine in which air is compressed by a piston to a very high pressure, causing a high temperature. Fuel is then injected and ignited by the compression temperature.

Diesel built his first engine based on that theory the same year and, though it worked only sporadically, he patented it. Within a few years, Diesel's design became the standard of the world for that type of engine and his name was attached to it.

Diesel thought that the United States was the greatest potential market for his engine. The first diesel built in the United States was made in 1898 by Busch-Zulzer Brothers Diesel Engine Co. The president of that company was Adolphus Busch, of Budweiser brewing fame, who had purchased North American manufacturing rights.
Diesel's Humanitarian Vision
Diesel originally thought that the diesel engine, (readily adaptable in size and utilizing locally available fuels) would enable independent craftsmen and artisans to endure the powered competition of large industries that ten virtually monopolized the predominant power source-the over sized, expensive, fuel-wasting steam engine. During 1885 Diesel set up his first shop-laboratory in Paris and began his 13-year ordeal of creating his distinctive engine. At Augsburg, on August 10th, 1893, Diesel's prime model, a single 10-foot iron cylinder with a flywheel at its base, ran on its own power for the first time. Diesel spent two more years at improvements and on the last day of 1896 demonstrated another model with the spectacular, if theoretical, mechanical efficiency of 75.6 percent, in contrast to the then-prevailing efficiency of the steam engine of 10 percent or less. Although commercial manufacture was delayed another year and even then begun at a snail's pace, by 1898 Diesel was a millionaire from franchise fees in great part international. His engines were used to power pipelines, electric and water plants, automobiles and trucks, and marine craft, and soon after were used in applications including mines, oil fields, factories, and transoceanic shipping.

DuPont, Mellon, and Hearst
Diesel expected that his engine would be powered by vegetable oils (including hemp) and seed oils. At the 1900 World's Fair, Diesel ran his engines on peanut oil. Later, George Schlichten invented a hemp 'decoricating' machine that stood poised to revolutionize paper making. Henry Ford demonstrated that cars can be made of, and run on, hemp. DuPont and Hearst were heavily invested in timber and petroleum resources, and saw renewable fuels as a threat to their empires. Petroleum companies also knew that petroleum emits noxious, toxic byproducts when incompletely burned, as in an auto engine. Pollution was important to Diesel and he saw his engine as a solution to the inefficient, highly polluting engines of his time.
A Mystery
Diesel died under mysterious circumstances in 1913, vanishing during an overnight crossing of the English Channel on the mail steamer Dresden from Antwerp to Harwich. Diesel's death might have been suicide, accidental or an assassination. Proponents of the assassination theory point out that shortly after Diesel's death, a diesel-powered German submarine fleet became the scourge of the seas. Diesel had been friendly to France, Britain and the United States.