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English   MAN celebrates 150 years Rudolf Diesel
14.03.2008 von admin

German version

MAN celebrates 150 years Rudolf Diesel
No other manufacturer is as closely associated with the history of the diesel engine as MAN. After all, it was at Maschinenfabrik Augsburg -- later to become MAN -- where Rudolf Diesel developed the world's first engine to bear his name. Intensive promotion of diesel technology is still part of the company's visionary orientation. MAN Nutzfahrzeuge Group continues to build on its diesel competence. Its range of products centers on the most modern diesel engines for commercial vehicles, autobuses, yachts and rail vehicles.

150 years ago, few scientists could have imagined engines that would propel automobiles, trucks and enormous container ships all around the world. The 19th century, the era of the Industrial Revolution, was characterized by the steam engine. Its steady pounding could be heard coming from machine shops, ships and locomotives. But the end of the steam engine and its huge boiler plant was already approaching.

Rudolf Diesel was born on March 18, 1858 the son of German parents, in Paris. The young boy had a scientific leaning and was sent to Augsburg to attend the Royal Bavarian Vocational School, now the Holbein High School. Following that he studied at the Munich Polytechnic under Professor Carl von Linde, for whom, after graduating, he returned to Paris to set up a factory for ice machines. But he was more interested in building a "rational heat engine" -- an idea that led to the invention of the diesel engine. Eventually on February 28, 1893 he was awarded a patent for an "internal combustion engine" by the Imperial Patents Office in Berlin. He wanted to find alternatives to the steam engine, which needed a lot of maintenance and only worked with efficiency of 10 percent at the most. To achieve this he needed partners, but those he approached were sceptical. All they saw in him was a young 34-year-old engineer with an invention that aspired to take the place of the omnipresent steam engine.
Rudolf Diesel - 1858 - 1913

Maschinenfabrik Augsburg paves the way

But Diesel persisted until, finally, he managed to convince the president of Maschinenfabrik Augsburg of his plans. The risk was considerable, but Heinrich von Buz agreed to go ahead with the idea. Maschinenfabrik Augsburg -- a forerunner of MAN -- and the Friedrich Krupp company made the necessary means available: manpower and equipment, an experimental station and financial resources to get the project going. In April 1893 already, Rudolf Diesel started setting up an experiment in Augsburg. After a number of initial difficulties a first measurement of power was performed in June 1895 -- but the efficiency of only 16.6 percent was disappointing. It was not until February 17, 1897 that Diesel's invention worked satisfactorily for the first time. The similarity with a steam engine could hardly be overlooked. The massive steel construction was three meters in height; the A-frame with the cylinder mounted on a crosshead and flywheel at the side, powered by kerosene, managed an impressive 18 horsepower and quite astonishing efficiency of 26.2 percent. Diesel's rational heat engine thus outclassed all other forms of propulsion. It worked without an ignition device, needed no boiler plant and no coal bunker. Compared to the gasoline powered or spark ignition engine, the diesel engine possessed three decisive advantages: it was more robust because it consisted of fewer parts; it was able to burn heavy oil, which was cheaper than gasoline; and its efficiency was far superior.
The first diesel engine. From 1893 onwards Rudolf Diesel realised his ingenious idea at Maschinenfabrik Augsburg.

Worldwide selling success

Very soon the diesel engine embarked on its triumphal course around the world. But things would not have reached that stage without the support of Maschinenfabrik Augsburg. The engineers at the Augsburg works improved details and eliminated many teething troubles. Just after the turn of the century the engine was finally regarded as safe to operate and ripe for the market. Initially, Rudolf Diesel showed himself to be very adroit in how he marketed his product. Worldwide licenses made him a millionaire. By 1903 already, ferry boats with diesel engines were crossing the English Channel. In 1913 there were some 300 diesel propelled ships on the world's oceans. By 1912, cooperation with the Borsig works in Berlin had produced the world's first diesel locomotive, delivered to the Königlich Preussische Staatsbahn. Rudolf Diesel died on September 29, 1913 under tragic circumstances while travelling to England. He fell overboard during the night from the packet ship Dresden -- something that has remained a mystery ever since.

Engines on wheels for the world

Among fast running diesel engines it is MAN Nutzfahrzeuge that sets the pace with ground-breaking developments -- direct injection, exhaust turbocharging, the most modern forms of combustion and many pioneering technologies are developed by MAN engineers.

In the early years of the 20th century MAN engineers achieve ground-breaking developments. Doing away with the crosshead, which was adopted from the steam engine, produces a substantial cut in the weight/horsepower ratio. Specific fuel consumption drops from 240 g/hph (326 g/kWh) to all of 185 g/hph (251 g/kWh). The advantages are self-evident -- the diesel engine needs neither an ignition device, nor a boiler plant or coal bunker. Its space requirement is comparatively small. So the diesel engine soon embarks on a career as a stationary power plant and as a ship's engine. The right power transmission is still lacking for the motorization of road and rail vehicles.

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