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Diesel Engine Basics
A diesel engine is an internal combustion engine that uses compression ignition to ignite the fuel as it is injected into the engine.
DIESEL ENGINES VS. GASOLINE ENGINES
It is helpful to an understanding of how diesel engines work to compare the differences between a diesel engine and a gasoline engine. The main differences between a gasoline engine and a diesel engine are:
A gasoline engine takes a mixture of gas and air, compresses it, and ignites the mixture with a spark. A diesel engine takes air, compresses it, and then injects fuel into the compressed air. The heat of the compressed air ignites the fuel spontaneously. A diesel engine does not contain a spark plug.
A gasoline engine compresses at a ratio of 8:1 to 12:1, while a diesel engine compresses at a ratio of 14:1 to as high as 25:1. The higher compression ratio of the diesel engine leads to better efficiency.
Gasoline engines generally use either carburetion, in which the air and fuel are mixed long before the air enters the cylinder, or port fuel injection, in which the fuel is injected just prior to the intake stroke (outside the cylinder). In a gasoline engine, therefore, all of the fuel is loaded into the cylinder during the intake stroke and then compressed. The compression of the fuel/air mixture limits the compression ratio of the engine - if it compresses the air too much, the fuel/air mixture spontaneously ignites and causes knocking. Diesel engines use direct fuel injection i.e. diesel fuel is injected directly into the cylinder. A diesel engine compresses only air, so the compression ratio can be much higher. The higher the compression ratio, the more power generated.
Diesel fuel injectors, unlike gasoline injectors, must be able to withstand the temperature and pressure inside the cylinder and still deliver the fuel in a fine mist. To ensure that the mist is evenly distributed throughout the cylinder, some diesel engines are equipped with special induction valves or pre-combustion chambers. Newer diesel engines are equipped with high-pressure common rail fuel systems. See Diesel Fuel System Basics for more information on this type of fuel system.
Diesel engines may be equipped with a glow plug. When a diesel engine is cold, the compression process may not raise the air temperature high enough to ignite the fuel. The glow plug is an electrically heated wire that facilitates fuel ignition when the engine is cold. Glow plugs are typically found on small diesel engines. Gasoline engines do not require glow plugs as they do not rely on spontaneous combustion.
Working Principle of Diesel Engine Cooling System
This post will introduce the working principle and components of diesel engine cooling system in detail. It is worth taking a few time to read it.
Diesel engines are heat-generating sources. They are cooled by circulating a water-based coolant through a water jacket, which is part of the engine. The coolant is circulated through pipes to the radiator to remove the heat added to the coolant by the engine and then back to the engine.
The typically components of the cooling system are:
1. Water pumps
2. Heat removing device (radiator or heat exchanger)
3. Coolant expansion tanks (surge tanks)
4. Temperature control valves
5. Temperature and pressure switches and indicators
Please note that the engine water cooling systems are either closed or open systems. Closed system is designed to use the same coolant with a closed circuit, preventing the losses of the coolant. While the open system uses the coolant once and discharges it or recirculates the coolant through systems, which cool the coolant by evaporation. Most of the stationary diesel engines use closed systems to control the chemistry of the coolant to prevent fouling of heat transfer surfaces and to closely control the temperatures.
In general, diesel generator cooling system has the following functions:
1. Cooling the engine cylinders via water jacket
2. Cooling the lube oil via lube oil cooler
3. Cooling combustion air via after cooler on turbo-charged engines
Although there are various types of pumps used in diesel engine cooling systems, two pumps are often used for two circuits systems. One is Engine driven pump, the other is electrical driven pump (It is used to circulate the coolant to keep the engine warm when the engine is not running.)
A high-powered diesel engine is very hard on the coolant. Additive-depleted coolant will not only allow liner cavitation but cause premature failure of the head gaskets, radiator, water pump, freeze plugs, heater core and thermostat.
Many diesel engines issues are caused by lacking proper maintenance.
First, check the additive level should be a part of maintenance schedule. Since the diesel engines have such a large liquid capacity, cooling system test strips are offered to check the level of additives. If the level is low, a bottle of SCA can be mixed in to renew the coolant without a complete change.
Second, when you are going to buy coolant, make sure it is compatible with a diesel engine, not automotive or light-truck use, which means gasoline powered.
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