Do You Want To Know About The History of Diesel Generators?
History of Diesel Generators is an interesting read. Start here, right now!
But prior to starting with the history of diesel generators, let us know what a diesel generator is.
What is a diesel generator?
A diesel generator set is a combination of diesel engine and alternator mounted together on a panel and combined as a single unit.
In a diesel generator, the engine first makes use of diesel and with the Internal Combustion (IC) engine, the mechanical or kinetic energy is derived. The alternator then converts this mechanical energy into electric energy and that is how power is generated. The control panels are used to stabilize the power flow from the generators.
Now that we know what a diesel generator is, let us start with the history of diesel generators. If you are interested to know who invented the diesel generator first, then a single person cannot be credited for this. It was due to the invention of the diesel engine and the alternator that the whole concept of a diesel generating set was conceptualized.
Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel is the one who invented the diesel engines. Michael Faraday is the scientist who is responsible for the invention of the alternator.
Let us start with the history of diesel engines here:
In the 1800s, steam engines ruled the roost with trains and industries entirely dependent on steam for power generation. The early versions of the internal combustion engines ran on gasoline and even gunpowder. They were able to convert only about 10% of the heat produced into energy. Rudolf Diesel started working on the theoretical idea that it was possible to convert all the heat in the IC engine into work.
Rudolf Diesel invented the engine where only the air is compressed first to make it so hot that it is able to ignite the injected fuel. Diesel’s first compression-ignition engine achieved about 25% efficiency and it was far better than the steam engine of those days.
In 1893, Rudolf Diesel engineered the first prototype diesel engine and applied for a patent a year later. But his inventions met with little commercial success and this caused financial strains which made him almost bankrupt. Diesel kept on improvising on the diesel engines and the advantages gradually became apparent.
Difference between Diesel Engine and Other Fuel Engines
The main difference between the diesel engines and the other fuel engines is the way in which the ignition is achieved. In a petrol engine, both the fuel and the air are compressed together. The ignition is then achieved with an ancillary unit like the spark plug.
In diesel generators, only the air is compressed and diesel is introduced at the end of the compression leading to self-ignition without the necessity of spark plug or external igniters. The self-ignition stabilizes the engine-knock which was not possible to be achieved by the petrol engines. Also, diesel turned out to be a cheaper alternative to petrol and with a lesser risk of causing explosions. Thus Rudolf Diesel’s engines finally made their way into the submarines in France.
In 1897, Rudolf Diesel also tried his hands in engines where fuel was derived from peanut oil and amazingly these had 75% efficiency. From 1898 till his death in 1913, Diesel was able to sell off his engines to the manufacturing and transportation industries. Since the diesel engines were heavy, they were stationed in factories and large ships and replaced the less efficient steam engines.
Death of Rudolf Diesel and its Subsequent Repercussions on Diesel Engine
Rudolf Diesel died under mysterious circumstances on-board a steamer on his business trip to London. It was only after his death and after the expiry of his patents that other companies started improvising on the diesel engines. Even though the exact cause of Rudolf Diesel’s death in the steamer will never be known, his invented diesel engine powers massive ships today. From automobiles to oil rigs, from generators to manufacturing industries, diesel engines form the core of industrial and transportation businesses in the present generation.
History of alternators:
Michael Faraday, an English scientist was the person responsible for the invention of electromagnetic induction. The foundation of electric motor technology was based on his findings of electromagnetic rotary devices and led to the practical applications of electricity in technologies.
Michael Faraday’s Experiments
The breakthrough in Faraday’s experiments came when he discovered the phenomenon of mutual induction. In his later experiments, he found that electric current flowed in a wire if a magnet was made to move around the loop of wire. Also, he was able to prove that current flows even when the magnet is kept stationary and the wire loop is moved. So he was able to establish that the changing magnetic field produces an electric field. This principle was put to use in the electric dynamo which was the ancestor of modern power generators.
Electromagnetic Power Dynamo by Faraday
The electric dynamo is a device that generates pulsing DC. The first electromagnetic power dynamo was built by Michael Faraday in 1831 which produced a small DC voltage. It was called the Faraday Disk. But this disk has the disadvantage that the output voltage was very low. Also, there was a lot of wastage of the produced current.
It was but natural that the coil of wire rotating in the magnetic field produced current and changed direction with each 180-degree rotation producing an alternating current (AC). But the early uses of electricity required direct current (DC). The AC was first converted to DC using a commutator which created a pulsing DC current. Hippolyte Pixii, a scientist is also credited to have built the dynamo in 1832.
But later on the alternating current (AC) became dominant due to the advantages it had of easy transformation to and from very high voltages. The dynamo was succeeded by the AC alternator capable of generating alternating current. The alternator is a device to generate alternating current. In 1882, a British electrician, J. E. H Gordon built a large two-phase alternating current generator. The Ferranti-Thompson Alternator invented later on, marked the standard for the alternators used around the world today.
History Of Diesel Generators
The beautiful amalgamation of the diesel engine and the alternator has led to the invention of diesel generators. This is it about the history of diesel generators. The first diesel generator prototype was heavy and noisier. Gradual refinements in the design and working have taken place leading to the present generation of diesel generator sets. The noise problem has been greatly reduced by the introduction of silent diesel generators.
Diesel generators are economic and cost-efficient. The diesel generator scores over other generators in many aspects. Hence they are invariably the preferred choice for power backup solutions in residences, commercial units and industries.