Diesel Engines 101Leave a Comment
Diesel engines are high-powered, highly efficient compression-ignition engines used in most industrial sectors in some capacity. At Central Diesel, Inc., we bring the advantages of diesel to customers in construction, marine, automotive, industrial, military, railroad, agriculture, government, mining, and more. We proudly supply premium diesel engines and components alongside comprehensive repair and rebuild services.
What are Diesel Engines?
Diesel engines are distinct from gasoline engines in two primary ways:
- Diesel engines are powered by diesel fuel rather than gasoline
- Diesel engines rely on compression ignition rather than spark ignition to combust fuel
Diesel fuel consists of heavy hydrocarbons distilled from petroleum, rather than the more volatile crude oil distillates used to create gasoline. While these heavy distillates evaporate at a higher temperature than gasoline molecules, they also have a lower self-ignition temperature than gasoline. Accordingly, diesel fuel does not require a spark to ignite. Instead, diesel engines compress the air in the compression chamber until it reaches a very high temperature, at which point the fuel enters the chamber and combusts.
Diesel engines are best known for their impressive efficiency. Spark-ignition engines, though theoretically more efficient than most diesel engines, are limited by the potential for pre-ignition at high compression rates. By contrast, diesel engines use very high compression ratios to induce extreme temperatures and combust the diesel.
Additionally, diesel engines take only air into the chamber on an intake stroke, rather than an air-fuel mixture. As a result, diesel engines do not require intake throttling to control power, so they are more efficient when idling than spark-ignition engines.
How Do Diesel Engines Work?
From the operator’s standpoint, diesel engines function much as gasoline engines. However, the internal combustion processes are very different:
- Once the key turns in the ignition, the engine begins to build heat by taking in air and compressing it to a high temperature.
- When the engine is warm enough, the engine can be activated – typically by turning the key all the way to “Start,” and potentially by stepping on an accelerator.
- This action triggers the fuel pumps to send diesel fuel through cleaning filters and toward the injection pump. The filters ensure that there is no particulate matter in the fuel that could clog the injector nozzles.
- The fuel injection pump forces the fuel under high pressure into a delivery tube, which feeds the fuel into the fuel injectors. Finally, the injector nozzles spray the fuel into the combustion chamber.
- Thanks to the effects of air compression, the temperature within the combustion chamber is such that the diesel fuel reacts with oxygen, causing combustion.
Advantages of Diesel Engines
Diesel engines offer efficient, powerful, and cost-effective performance in virtually any industrial setting. The key advantages of diesel engines over gasoline engines include:
Fuel-efficiency and cost. The design of diesel engines ensures superior fuel efficiency compared to gasoline engines of the same size, which leads to substantially lower operating costs over time. Even in markets where diesel costs slightly more than gasoline, diesel engines offer a great enough fuel efficiency difference that they still cost less to run in the long-term.
Engine durability. Diesel engines eliminate spark plugs, which are one of the most common failure points of traditional gasoline engines. Without spark plugs, diesel engines can often go longer without requiring maintenance or repair. Additionally, diesel engine components tend to be sturdier overall, given that they must withstand extreme compressive forces. Combined, these factors mean that diesel engines offer incredible return-on-investment (ROI) even before accounting for lower operating costs.
Cold-weather performance. At very low temperatures, spark plugs may have trouble igniting — especially those that are old or otherwise damaged. Since diesel engines don’t rely on spark plugs, they never encounter this problem. Moderately low temperatures are no problem for the modern diesel engine, although extreme cold may cause diesel fuel to become gelatinous as paraffins stiffen in the fuel. Winter-mix diesel fuels solve this problem by incorporating hydrocarbons with a lower freezing point, so diesel engines remain the better choice if cold-weather performance is a concern.
Greater torque. As a result of their higher compressive forces, diesel engines produce significantly more torque than gasoline counterparts, making diesel the better choice for heavy-duty industrial applications.
Industries & Applications of Diesel Engines
Diesel engines are sometimes found within commercial passenger cars, although this is not as common within the United States. More frequently, diesel engines power large, heavy industrial vehicles that benefit from the additional power and torque. These applications include, among others:
- Railroad locomotives
- Marine vehicles
- Construction vehicles
- Farming equipment
- Heavy duty trucks
Diesel engines also power generators for portable power generation, as well as for emergency back-up power. Applications in this context include:
- Mining generators for excavating machinery and drills
- Backup generators in hospitals
- Oil and gas generators for powering remote drills
- Portable generators for military personnel
- Lighting generators for construction crews
Some industries that make heavy use of diesel – whether in the form of diesel-powered vehicle engines or generator engines – include the following:
- Industrial manufacturing
In all of these fields, diesel provides a reliable, high-performance option for generating power exactly where and when it is needed the most.
Diesel Engine Products From Central Diesel
At Central Diesel, we understand the central role that diesel engines play in countless industrial workflows. We offer a comprehensive range of products and services designed to help our customers make the most of their diesel engines.
We are proud to be an authorized distributor for both Deutz and Mitsubishi Industrial Engines, which offer top-of-the-line performance in even the toughest industrial settings. Additionally, as certified dealers, we are qualified to repair and service the following brands:
- Vanguard/Briggs & Stratton
- Ingersoll Rand
We also offer full-service installation, maintenance, and repair for diesel engines, and we stock a diverse array of components for replacements, repairs, and upgrades:
- Filtration systems
- Fuel injection systems and components
- Hydraulic hoses and fittings
- Electrical components for diesel engines
- Exhaust systems
- Turbocharger assemblies for diesel engines
- Diesel generators
- Railroad systems and components
Since our founding in 1972, we’ve helped thousands of customers identify and meet their diesel needs. To learn how Central Diesel can do the same for you, contact us today or request a quote.