The 4 Stroke Diesel Cycle
Nickolaus Otto invented the 4 stroke cycle in 1862. More details of how the four stroke spark ignition cycle works, together with pictures of Otto's first engines can be found here
In 1892 Rudolph Diesel invented the compression ignition engine, now named after him. The first working engine was built at the Augsburg Maschinenfabrik (now part of the MAN B&W group) in 1897. The single cylinder engine was used to power stationary machinery. It weighed five tonnes and produced 20 hp at 172 rpm! The engine operated at 26.2% efficiency, a very significant improvement on the 20% achieved by the best petrol engines of the time.
In 1912 the first ocean going vessel to have diesel engines installed was the Selandia. The engines were 8 cylinder 4 strokes. An idea of their size can be got from the man standing by the engine controls half way down the engine.
The four stroke cycle is so called because it takes four strokes of the piston to complete the processes needed to convert the energy in the fuel into work. Because the engine is reciprocating, this means that the piston must move up and down the cylinder twice, and therefore the crankshaft must revolve twice.
The four strokes of the piston are known as the induction stroke, the compression stroke, the power stroke, and the exhaust stroke. Students sometimes remember this as "suck, squeeze, bang, blow."
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