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Industrial Diesel Engine Types & Applications

Waukesha.jpgWhat is a Diesel Engine?

The diesel engine is a type of internal combustion engine; more specifically, it is a compression ignition engine. The fuel in a diesel engine is ignited by suddenly exposing it to the high temperature and pressure of a compressed gas containing oxygen (usually atmospheric air), rather than a separate source of ignition energy (such as a spark plug). This process is known as the diesel cycle after Rudolf Diesel, who invented it in 1892. While traditional diesel engine generators may not fit into our definition of 'alternative energy' sources, they are still a valuable addition to a remote power or grid back-up system.

Types of Diesel Engines

There are two classes of diesel engines: two-stroke and four-stroke. Most diesel engines generally use the four-stroke cycle, with some larger engines operating on the two-stroke cycle.  Normally, banks of cylinders are used in multiples of two, though any number of cylinders can be used as long as the load on the crankshaft is counterbalanced to prevent excessive vibration.
Generator sets produce either single or three phase power. Most homeowners require single phase whereas industrial or commercial applications usually require three phase power. Diesel engine generators are recommended due to their longevity and lower operating costs. Modern diesel engines are quiet and generally require much less maintenance than comparably sized gas (natural gas or propane) units.

Diesel Engine Generators - Commercial/Industrial Applications

Diesel generators are designed to meet the needs of small and medium-sized businesses apart from heavy usage in industries. A generator is a revolutionary product that brings clean and affordable standby power within the reach of millions of enterprises, homes and small businesses. Reducing the cost of backup power and making generators easy to install is becoming the norm these days. 

Baldor.jpgBusinesses lose money when they shut down during a blackout.  Considering the impact of significant revenue loss, the economics of investing in standby power is compelling. To illustrate the point: If a retail business averages $1000 an hour at the cash register, the loss of revenue during an extended outage will be very high, not to mention the cost of having employees idle during that time.  However, diesel powered generators eliminate the risk of a blackout. Add the advantages of being open while competitors without backup power are shut down and the cost / benefit analysis looks even better.  Investing in generators is a simple way to safeguard revenue, maintain security, avoid losses, and protect the bottom line.

Most modern generators are engineered to meet emergency power needs. These units continuously monitor the electrical current and automatically start up if power is interrupted and shut off when utility service is returned. In industries, during critical processes, generators can supply emergency power to all vital and selected loads as desired. This quality leads to widespread use of diesel-powered generators across recreational, residential, commercial, communication, and industrial applications. Today, most state-of-the-art- hospitals, five star hotels, business process outsourcing centers, manufacturing plants, telecommunications organizations, commercial buildings, data centers, emergency facilities, large industries, and mining companies require uninterrupted power and have backup diesel engine generators.

On the Road:

The vast majority of modern heavy road vehicles like trucks and buses, ships, long-distance trains, large-scale portable power generators, and most farm and mining vehicles have diesel engines. However, in some countries they are not nearly as popular in passenger vehicles as they are heavier, noisier, have performance characteristics that make them slower to accelerate. In general, they are also more expensive than petrol vehicles. Modern diesel engines have come a long way and with Turbo Direct Injection systems now in vehicles, one would be hard-pressed to notice a difference between diesel and gasoline engines.

In some countries, where tax rates make diesel fuel much cheaper than petrol, diesel vehicles are very popular. Newer designs have significantly narrowed differences between petrol and diesel vehicles in these areas. The BMW diesel lab in Austria is considered to be the worldwide leader in the development of automotive diesel engines. After a long spell with relatively few diesel cars in its lineup, Mercedes Benz has returned to diesel-powered cars in the 21st century with an emphasis on high performance.

In the agricultural field, tractors, irrigation pumps and threshing machines and other equipment are predominantly diesel powered. Construction is another sector that relies heavily on diesel power. All concrete pavers, scrapers, rollers, trenchers and excavators run on diesel.   

In the Air:

Cell Phone Tower

A few airplanes have been using diesel engines since the late 1930s. The newer automotive diesel engines have power-weight ratios comparable to the ancient spark-ignition designs and have far superior fuel efficiency. Their use of electronic ignition, fuel injection, and sophisticated engine management systems also makes them far easier to operate than mass-produced spark-ignition aircraft engines. The cost of diesel fuel compared to petrol has led to considerable interest in diesel-powered small general aviation planes, and several manufacturers have recently begun selling diesel engines for this purpose.

On the Waters:

High-speed engines are used to power tractors, trucks, yachts, buses, cars, compressors, generators and pumps. The largest diesel engines are used to power ships and liners along the high seas. These huge engines have power outputs up to 90,000 kW, turn at about 60 to 100 rpm, and are 15 meters tall.

Under the Ground:

The mining and mineral extraction sector worldwide relies heavily on diesel power to harness natural resources such as aggregates, precious metals, iron ore, oil, gas, and coal. Diesel-powered shovels and drills excavate these products and load them into enormous mining trucks or onto conveyer belts that also operate on the same fuel. Overall, diesel accounts for 72 percent of the energy used by the mining sector. 

Both surface and underground mining operations rely on diesel-powered equipment to extract materials and load trucks. The largest rubber-tired, diesel-powered equipment used in mining are enormous off-road trucks with engines of over 2,500 horsepower, capable of hauling over 300 tons per load. These giant trucks trundling across the land are a sight to behold.

In the Hospitals

Emergency backup generators are a must have for any major medical healthcare facilities.  Due to the critical nature of the work these facilities do and the position their patients are in, power failures are simply not an option. For many years, both military and public hospitals have relied on industrial strength generator sets to take over whenever the power goes out, whether it's from a local outage or major natural disaster like a hurricane or flood.   

Data CenterBehind the Datacenters

Computers are at the heart of today's industry.  When servers and systems go down, communications can be lost, business stops, data is lost, workers sit idle, and just about everything comes to a halt.  It is for that reason that almost all communications and telecommunications companies of all shapes turn to diesel generators as their primary backup power option.  With the reliability of their services affecting so many people, they really have no choice but to have a solid backup power option in place for both their business, and the customers they serve.


Diesel is used in most industrial sectors overwhelmingly because it provides more power per unit of fuel and its lower volatility makes it safer to handle. One really exciting prospect of diesel over petrol is the possibility of eliminating petroleum consumption entirely.  Most diesel engines can be coaxed into burning vegetable oil instead of diesel and all of them can burn various processed forms of vegetable oil without loss in life or efficiency.  

With Generator Source, your search for a cost-effective, efficient diesel engine or generator ends now.  We offer one of the largest selections of industrial diesel engines and generators found anywhere in the world. To get more information, simply contact us today!

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