Who invented the Diesel Generator?

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Who invented the Diesel Generator?

The answer to this question isn’t that clear cut really.  It was a combination of several people’s work.  Most crucially though, Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel and Michael Farraday.

Rudolf Christian Karl Diesel (18 March 1858 – 29 September 1913)

Rudolph Diesel was a German inventor and mechanical engineer, famous for the invention of the diesel engine.  At age 14, against the wishes of his parents, who wanted him to start work, Rudolf started higher education.  After graduating with the highest academic honours, he started work to design and construct a modern refrigeration and ice plant.  He later married and continued his work, gaining numerous patents in both Germany and France.

In early 1890, Diesel moved to Berlin and moved on to working with steam.  His research into thermal efficiency and fuel efficiency lead him to build a steam engine using ammonia vapour. During tests, however, the engine exploded and almost killed him. He spent many months in a hospital, followed by health and eyesight problems.

Diesel continued his work and eventually, he obtained a patent for his design for a compression-ignition engine. In his engine, fuel was injected at the end of compression and the fuel was ignited by the high temperature resulting from compression. Rudolf Diesel eventually obtained patents for his design in Germany and other countries, including the U.S. (U.S. Patent 542,846 and U.S. Patent 608,845).

Rudolph met a suspicious end when he boarded a steamer in Antwerp on his way to a meeting in London on the evening of 29 September 1913.  He ate his evening meal and then retired to his cabin.  He was never seen alive again.  In the morning his cabin was empty and his bed had not been slept in, although his nightshirt was neatly laid out and his watch had been left where it could be seen from the bed. His hat and overcoat were discovered neatly folded beneath the afterdeck railing.  Ten days later, a body was found floating in the ocean near Norway.  The personal items were removed (pill case, wallet, I.D. card, pocket knife, eyeglass case) from the clothing of the dead man, which were then later identified by Rudolf’s son, Eugen Diesel, as belonging to his father.

There are various theories to explain Diesel’s death. Some suggest suicide while others speculate that his business interests may have provided motives for murder!

Shortly after Diesel’s disappearance, his wife Martha opened a bag that her husband had given to her just before his ill-fated voyage, with directions that it should not be opened until the following week. She discovered 200,000 German marks in cash and a number of financial statements indicating that their bank accounts were virtually empty. In a diary Diesel brought with him on the ship, for the date 29 September 1913, a cross was drawn, indicating death.

After Diesel’s death, the diesel engine underwent much development and became a very important replacement for the steam piston engine.

Michael Faraday (22 September 1791 – 25 August 1867) was an English scientist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry.  His main discoveries include those of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis.

Although Faraday received little formal education, he was one of the most influential scientists in history. Faraday established the basis for the concept of the electromagnetic field in physics. Faraday also established that magnetism could affect rays of light and that there was an underlying relationship between the two phenomena. He similarly discovered the principle of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and the laws of electrolysis. His inventions of electromagnetic rotary devices formed the foundation of electric motor technology, and it was largely due to his efforts that electricity became practical for use in technology.

As a chemist, Faraday discovered benzene, investigated the clathrate hydrate of chlorine, invented an early form of the Bunsen burner and the system of oxidation numbers, and popularised terminology such as anode, cathode, electrode, and ion.

Faraday was the third of four children born to a family that was not well off.  He therefore only received a very  basic school education and had to educate himself further.

In June 1832, the University of Oxford granted Faraday a Doctor of Civil Law degree (honorary). During his lifetime, he was offered a knighthood in recognition for his services to science, which he turned down on religious grounds, believing it was against the word of the Bible to accumulate riches and pursue worldly reward, stating he preferred to remain “plain Mr Faraday to the end”.

Faraday suffered a nervous breakdown in 1839 but eventually returned to his electromagnetic investigations. In 1848, as a result of representations by the Prince Consort, Faraday was awarded a grace and favour house in Hampton Court in Middlesex, free of all expenses or upkeep. This was the Master Mason’s House, later called Faraday House, and now No. 37 Hampton Court Road. In 1858 Faraday retired to live there.

When asked by the British government to advise on the production of chemical weapons for use in the Crimean War (1853–1856), Faraday refused to participate citing ethical reasons.

Faraday died at his house at Hampton Court on 25 August 1867, aged 75. He had previously turned down burial in Westminster Abbey, but he has a memorial plaque there, near Isaac Newton’s tomb. Faraday was interred in the dissenters’ (non-Anglican) section of Highgate Cemetery.

Source: Wikipedia

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