The term Diesel engine refers to any internal combustion engine that uses the heat of compression in order to initiate cylinder ignition to burn a fuel which has been injected into the combustion chamber. This differs from spark ignition engines such as petrol engines which rely on a spark plug to ignite an air fuel mixture. engines have the highest thermal efficiency of any other external or internal combustion engines due to the very high compression ratios needed to ignite the fuel. All diesel engines are modelled on the thermodynamic diesel cycle which was developed by Rudolph Diesel in 1897.
How a engine works is a complicated process to describe. Initially air only is allowed into the combustion chamber, this air is then compressed to a ratio of approximately 15:1 to 22:1 resulting in the air temperature in the cylinder increasing to about 550c or 1022f. At the top of the compression stroke fuel is injected into the compressed air in the combustion chamber. The heat from the compression vaporises the fuel causing combustion. The quick expansion of the combustion gasses drives the piston downward supplying power to the crankshaft which then drives a different cylinders piston upwards to complete the process over and over and continuously run the engine.
BMW first started using the engines in their vehicles in 1983 with the introduction of the 2.4 litre M21 straight six cylinder. this first version was never available in the UK and was mainly marketed in North America in the Lincoln Continental.
1994 saw the introduction of a new engine offered by BMW, this engine was the M41 1.7 litre straight 4 engine. This engine was available in the 1994-2000 E36 318tds BMW.
1998 saw the addition on three different engines from BMW, the 2.0 litre M47 which was a straight 4, then there was the M57 which ranged from 2.5 litre to 3.0 litres and was a straight six, and finally there was the M67 which was 3.9 litre v8 configuration. The M67 won two international engine of the year awards.
2006 saw the introduction of the N47 which was which was a 2.0 litre straight 4. This latest version is known as a common rail engine and had vast improvements in emissions and fuel efficiency.
In 2008 BMW introduced the N57 engine, this was a 2.5 litre to 3.0 litre straight six engine. These engines were turbocharged common rail engines.
Of the engines listed there are still some in production today such as the N57, the M57, and the N47. BMW have tailored their line of diesel engines to be as environmentally friendly or even more so than some other manufacturers petrol offerings.
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