5 Diesel Fuel Facts You Might Not Know
Think you know everything there is to know about diesel fuel? We bet you don’t! Put your diesel knowledge to the test with these five fun facts:
- Diesel was actually a man’s name (no, not Vin) – The Diesel engine was actually named after Rudolph Diesel, a German inventor and mechanical engineer; the first successful Diesel engine ran in 1897; the first commercial Diesel engine was installed in a German factory in 1898. Interestingly, Diesel also designed engines that ran on peanut or vegetable oil without any modification as early as 1900.
- Look mom, no spark plugs! – In a conventional combustion engine, gasoline is mixed with air to make vapor, which is then compressed by a piston and ignited by a spark plug. In a diesel engine, on the other hand, fuel is injected into a combustion chamber filled with highly compressed air; heat in the chamber ignites the fuel. Because of their design, diesel engines must sometimes use a heating device called a glow plug in cold weather to keep compressed air temperatures high enough to ignite the fuel.
- Diesel engines are efficiency kings – In an average diesel engine, about 40 percent of the fuel burned actually moves the vehicle – the rest of the energy is lost or used elsewhere along the way. Forty percent may seem like a low number but consider that gasoline engines can only achieve efficiencies ranging from 12 to 30 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Diesel burns cleaner than ever – Modern diesel engines manufactured today are cleaner-burning than at any point in history. The EPA is constantly working to reduce exposure to the hazards of diesel exhaust from older engines, too, funding projects that reduce diesel emissions from existing vehicles.
- Diesel works best at moderate speeds – A diesel engine reaches peak power at speeds up to 65 miles per hour. It’s usually best to keep a diesel engine running below 2,000 RPM to maintain peak power (gasoline engines, by contrast, require much higher RPM – some as high as 6,700 – to achieve maximum horsepower and acceleration).
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