On August 10, 1893 Rudolph Diesel completed the first successful test of his highly efficient engine that ran on peanut and hemp oil. To commemorate the date, biofuel advocates the world over herald August 10th as “International Biodiesel Day”. (It is ometimes celebrated on March 18, Rudolph Diesel’s birthday.)
Diesel later demonstrated his engine at the World Fair in Paris in 1900 and won the “Grand Prix” (highest prize.) He believed that the utilization of a biomass fuel was the real future of his engine.
During the 1920s, diesel engine manufacturers altered their engines to utilize the lower viscosity of the fossil fuel (petrodiesel) rather than vegetable oil, a biomass fuel. The petroleum industries were able to make inroads in fuel markets because their fuel was much cheaper to produce than the biomass alternatives. The result was, for many years, a near elimination of the biomass fuel production infrastructure.
Only recently have environmental impact concerns and a decreasing cost differential made biomass fuels such as biodiesel a growing alternative.
Diesel died under mysterious circumstances in 1913, vanishing during an overnight crossing of the English Channel. Diesel’s death might have been suicide, accidental or an assassination. Proponents of the assassination theory point out that shortly after Diesel’s death, a diesel-powered German submarine fleet became the scourge of the seas. Diesel had been friendly with France, Britain and the United States and was known for his willingness to share his invention with the world.
“Soybean Bus” was created by the United States Department of Energy and is in the public domain.