100th anniversary of death: The great mystery surrounding the death of Rudolf Diesel


The great mystery surrounding the death of Rudolf Diesel

100th anniversary of death: The great mystery surrounding the death of Rudolf Diesel-Europe

The undated photo shows the inventor and engineer Rudolf Diesel. The inventor of the engine of the same name died on September 29, 1913. The exact circumstances of his death remained unclear.

Source: dpa

Rudolf Diesel was actually a refrigeration engineer, but his passion was self-igniting engines. His invention made him a lot of money at times, but it may cost him his life.

E.s storms when the crew of the government pilot boat “Coertsen” pulls the body of Rudolf Diesel out of the water from the English Channel on October 10, 1913. To this day it is not exactly clear what happened to the inventor of the diesel engine. Some speak of suicide, others even consider murder possible because of valuable patent rights.

Rudolf Diesel was born on March 18, 1858 in Paris, his parents’ adopted home. The war of 1870 drove the German family from France to England – and into poverty. The father earns less than a pound a week there. That is why the twelve-year-old son is sent to foster parents in his old home in Augsburg. It is currently developing into an industrial city.

The boy is ambitious, ambitious and has an absolute will to become a mechanic. The bookbinder’s son passed his Abitur with top marks and shortly afterwards switched to the mechanical-technical department of the Munich Polytechnic, where he attended the lecture of the ice machine inventor Carl von Linde.

He learns that steam engines are only six to ten percent efficient, which makes him downright indignant. He resolves to invent an engine that can do better. In 1880 he passed his exams with flying colors and became a volunteer in a Lindian ice cream factory in France, a year later the refrigeration engineer was director.

Tired of ice machines

But he is not satisfied with that – he begins researching his engine and deals with crude oil and petroleum. His first patent was awarded to him on September 24, 1882 – albeit for a process for the production of clear ice in bottles. He gets married and has three children.

Diesel quickly lost interest in creating, assembling and repairing ice machines and developed its engine further. He doesn’t even pay attention to the already existing gasoline engine. On February 28, 1892, he received the German patent no. 67207 "Working method and design for internal combustion engines". In order to be able to build his invention, he looks for a partner and finds him in the machine factory in Augsburg.

The engine causes a lot of problems, however, it doesn’t run smoothly – Diesel needs more partners: On April 10, the inventor surrenders all rights that are not already owned by Maschinenfabrik Augsburg to Krupp, which immediately cooperates with Augsburg. Diesel becomes the test manager for his engine and is supposed to get it ready for series production. On August 10, 1893, the highly compressed liquid fuel ignited for the first time after injection.

Six months later, the engine runs smoothly for the first time: for one minute at 88 revolutions per minute. Soon a force of 13.2 HP will be measured. But development is stalling. Diesel works to the point of exhaustion. In 1895 he is certain that he has achieved his goal. However, it should take two more years before the economical four-stroke engine, on the principle of which engines are still built today, runs smoothly.

Big financial difficulties

Diesel is now also enjoying success abroad; However, this is at the expense of his health: in 1898 he was certified as having a "severe nervous weakness". He’s been out of action for six months – during this time the botch sneaks into his factories. Defective engines result in complaints, the diesel engine falls out of favor, the share price plummets. The consequences of wrong financial advice begin to nibble on his wealth. The fortune of around five million marks is slowly disappearing.

In 1906 he pulls himself up again. Its engines now running smoothly lead it to world fame: it is known in America, in Japan as well, in Europe anyway. More and more ships are being equipped with diesel engines. In 1911 Rudolf Diesel was back on top. Nevertheless, his fortune continues to dwindle. He speaks of “farewell and end” to friends. The family car has to be sold.

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"In any case, the diesel is innocent"

Diesel knows: On October 1st there will be no more money for the many interest obligations. On September 26, 1913, the engineer traveled alone by train from Frankfurt to Ghent, visited a friend there and confessed: “I have serious worries. I don’t know how to overcome everything. ”He also complains of heart problems and stitches in the head. On September 29, he boarded the mail steamer "Dresden" for the passage from Antwerp to Harwich to do business there.

He never gets there. You can find your hat and overcoat near the railing. His bed in the cabin is unused, his nightgown is folded on the blanket, his luggage and keys have not been touched. His fellow travelers report that Rudolf Diesel was in an excellent mood the evening before. He had eaten with appetite, the sea was calm, and Diesel had expressed himself enthusiastically about the future of his engine.

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