The Latest Innovations in Diesel Engine Technology

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Hand filling tank with diesel at a self service gas station

Diesel engines play a vital role in many industries and help power essential equipment like machines and motors. As time goes by, inventors and scientists are working on ways to improve automotive & diesel technology.

At present, the modern diesel engine is an exceptional accomplishment of innovation. Let’s look at the innovations that have shaped the advanced diesel engines that are relied upon by so many industries.

Brief History of Diesel Engine

During the 1870s, the steam engine was the leading power supplier for factories and trains—some early motor vehicles were powered by steam and internal combustion engines.

In that period, a student learning about thermodynamics in Paris, Rudolph Diesel, got the idea to create a highly efficient engine. It led him to developing the now famous diesel engine. In the 1890s, he received patents for designs, and the prototype was completed in 1893.

After many improvements and tests, Rudolph Diesel produced successful results with his engine in 1897. Compared with steam engines being used at the time, there was an efficiency increase of 16.2%.

What is a Diesel Engine?

A diesel engine is defined as an internal combustion engine, just like a gasoline engine. When fuel is burned inside the combustion chamber, it is where power and torque are created. Compared to gasoline engines, modern diesel engines can be up to twice as efficient, allowing drivers to go more distant on the same amount of fuel.

How does a diesel engine work?

A diesel engine functions as it uses pistons to compress a mixture of air containing oxygen with diesel fuel. When this air is compressed at a ratio of about 15:1, the mixture explodes, forcing the piston back up and creating the reciprocating motion. This motion is then converted to rotary motion by the engine’s crankshaft.

What are the Latest Innovations in Diesel Engine Technology?

Diesel-powered engines are known to be more efficient. They produce less CO2 than regular gasoline engines, and there are still ways to improve them.

Over the years, several industry improvements and enhancements have been created to help increase efficiency and minimize the emissions these engines produce. Some technological advancements provide the benefit of assisting with diesel fuel’s burn or combustion rates.

What is Cetane?

Cetane is a powerful energy compound that improves the ignition quality of fuel. It is a chemical compound naturally found in diesel and is highly flammable. Cetane is also the industry-standard measurement for evaluating fuel combustion quality.

The measure of ignition quality is known as the cetane number or CN. You can think of it as octane ratings on gasoline. However, the difference is that while a good octane rating means a fuel doesn’t ignite too soon, a good cetane number means a fuel ignites as quickly as possible.

Cetane Additives

Cetane additives or cetane accelerators increase the cetane value or number of a fuel. When raising the cetane value, it usually reduces fuel density and fuel mileage. Some manufacturers may recommend using cetane improvers, especially during extremely cold conditions.

A higher amount of cetane leads to igniting fuel in the combustion chamber more quickly after injection. Thus, fuel is ignited at a lower temperature, accelerating fuel combustion.

What is Common Rail Fuel Combustion?

Common rail fuel injection system works by cutting down the size of fuel droplets injected into the combustion chambers of a diesel engine. The smaller droplets burn more completely and help increase oxygenation. As a result, a higher level of compression ignition and combustion with the diesel fuel.

It is one of the most crucial components in a gasoline and diesel injection system. The main advantages of the common rail fuel combustion is reducing exhaust and noise emissions, providing better fuel efficiency, and improving overall engine performance. It consists of a high-pressure pump, injectors, a rail, and an electronic control unit.

What are Diesel Oxidation Catalysts?

Diesel oxidation catalysts (DOC) help convert carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons or unburned fuel into a less harmful carbon dioxide and water mixture.

This oxidation process helps increase the nitrogen dioxide to aid in the performance of the selective catalyst reduction (SCR) and promote the passive regeneration of the diesel particulate filter (DP). Eventually, it lessens emissions produced by diesel engines.

What is a Selective Catalyst Reduction System?

A selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system is another emissions control process, which is used as a nitrous oxide reduction strategy. The urea-based diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is injected into the exhaust over a catalytic converter in a decomposition chamber. 

As the fluid reacts with the precious metals in the catalyst, it converts the nitrous oxide into harmless nitrogen and water. Now, after this process is complete, the nitrogen and water are drived out through the vehicle’s tailpipe. It is a cost-effective and fuel-efficient technology that works to help reduce diesel engine emissions.

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