Rudolf Diesel

From Academic Kids

Rudolf Diesel
Rudolf Diesel

Rudolf Diesel (March 18, 1858 - September 30, 1913) was a German inventor, famous for the invention of the Diesel engine. He was born in Paris and died on the English Channel.

Rudolf Diesel developed the idea of the compression ignition engine during the last decade of the 19th century, receiving a patent for the device on February 23, 1892 and building a functional prototype in early 1897 while working at the MAN plant at Augsburg. This 'Diesel engine' was named after him. Originally it was known as the "oil engine".

Between 1911 and 1912 he stated:

"The diesel engine can be fed with vegetable oils and would help considerably in the development of agriculture of the countries which use it"

He also predicted that:

"The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become in course of time as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time."

On 29 September 1913, Rudolf Diesel shipped on the "SS Dresden", a cross-channel ferry, for a short trip to attend the opening of a new Carels factory in Ipswich. (Carels was a Belgian Diesel licensee.)

However, Diesel never showed up in England and his body was found a couple of days later by a coast guard boat. As it was usual at that time, the seamen only took his belongings (identified later by Diesel's sons) and threw the body back into the sea.

It has been alleged that he was going to attend a meeting with representatives of Rover. Because Diesel decided to allow anyone to purchase a license for his engine patents, which included France, Britain and other nations Imperial Germany was at odds with, it is suspected that he was murdered by German agents in order to prevent him from disclosing the details of his inventions to their adversaries in the upcoming World War I.

Another explanation of Diesel's death is that it was not an assassination, but that he committed suicide as it turned out later that he was actually broke. Diesel's family, however, believes that he was thrown off the ship, and his invention ideas were stolen.

Another motive for his death may have been that his engine demoted petrol oil monopoly profits, already becoming highly consolidated globally. In his bio-oil solution, Diesel provided a technological and energy choice for the consumer that made integrating petroleum needless, and cut into these monopoly profits. After his death, these ideas died with him, and the Diesel engine was engineered to only run on petroleum.


  • Diesel, Eugen: Diesel: Der Mensch, das Werk, das Schicksal. Hamburg 1937.
  • Diesel, Rudolf: Die Entstehung des Dieselmotors. Erstmaliges Faksimile der Erstausgabe von 1913 mit einer technik-historischen Einfhrung. Moers: Steiger Verlag, 1984.


See also

his engine was not quickly realized due to the rapid development of the fossil oil industry, which produced a cheaper diesel.

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