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Who Killed Diesel? Ronald Lairchild (october 25th, 2005)

When I grew up the only people who used Diesel were those who had a farm or
those who owned a Volkswagen. Everyone knew at that time that Diesel was
about two thirds the price of Regular Gasoline and it was also well known
that a quarter tank of Diesel could get you to the city and back. It was
true then that diesel-powered cars weren’t as fast as cars that used
gasoline, so most people who wanted to drive something sexy wouldn’t buy
one. Some people even thought that it was an obsolete engine and that it
would disappear from the market like Beta Videotapes.

Few people know who invented the Diesel Engine or why, and that it might be
the easiest way out of an energy crisis that seems to be on the way. In
fact, the person who invented the Diesel Engine knew that we might be facing
a future that needed a petroleum free fuel. Rudolf Diesel was born in
Germany in 1858, and in 1898 invented what people alive at the time called
an “oil engine”. Rudolf Diesel developed the idea of the compression
ignition engine, receiving a patent for the device in 1892 and built a
functional prototype in early 1897. He was quoted as saying "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." It is amazing to know that even a century ago
people knew that oil might not last.

It seems that Diesel was looking for a way for farmers (and perhaps anyone
else who worked in the lubricant trade) to be able to use their products to
run a combustion engine: “The diesel engine can be fed with vegetable oils
and would help considerably in the development of agriculture of the
countries which use it.” Vegitable oil, grown by the farmers themelves,
could be used to power vehicles that would be used to grow more fule and so
on. The “Oil Engine” would become the AK-47 of the propulsion world, used by
deveolping countries to take control of their own fates. One of the problems
with using things like tractors to grow crops is that it can cost more to
keep a tracter going then one can make from growing the crops. This way it
can be profitable for those in developing countries to grow food.

Of course the diesel we use today isn’t made from vegitable oil, but
instead we use diesel made from petrolium. No tale of a “grass roots cure”
in the propulsion industry is complete without a good old fashioned
conspiracy theroy, and of course Mr. Diesel’s tale is no exception. Anyone
who has studdied the twisted tale of the quest for the Prepetual Motion
Machine will know that the propusion industry is riddled with them.

For you see, Rudolf Diesel died under mysterious curcumstances. At the time
diesel died the tense Europe that surrponded poor Rudolf was about to break
out into World War One, a massive clash between the British Empire and the
German Republic. There was a arms race of a sorts, with the two countries
spending like mad to build massive fleets of (at that time) cutting edge
battleships. It was at that time that Mr. Diesel decided to book a passage
from Ghent (Belgium) to go across the English Channel so he could go to a
meeting in Ipswitch.

Rudolf Diesel was aboard a ship called the S.S. Dresden, and he was going
to sell a licence to some people in England. Diesel was aparently close to
being broke, and he was willing to sell his technology to anyone with enough
coin to pay him. Perhaps it isn’t surprising that when the ship arrived on
land Mr. Diesel’s cabin was found empty and he was no where in sight. Days
later his body was recovered by fishermen on the Schelde River in a place
called Rupelmonde. As was the custom at the time the fishermen that found
him took his belongings and gave Diesel’s corpse back to the sea. After his
death, the Diesel engine was re-engineered to only run on diesel fuel
derived from petroleum.

Some say that Diesel commited suicide, terminally depressed by the thought
of being destitiute. A second theroy says that Diesel was killed by agents
working for Germany, and that they threw him into the channel because he was
providing the British with essential technology. There is also a whisper
that he was bumped off by thugs working for petrolium companies. There is of
course no proof for any of these theroys. One way or another BioDiesel and
Diesel powered cars are quickly becoming a serious option as the price of
gasoline begins to skyrocket. Perhaps one day, over one hundred years after
it was invented, Diesel’s engine may need to be re-designed yet again; this
time to use a fule that is more renewable than it is “accepted”.

By: Ronald Lairchild

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Diesel


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