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Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913), German engineer, after a portrait by Fuks of 1898. Diesel was a brilliant student, studying at the Munich Technical University from 1875. Whilst there, he determined to build an engine more efficient than those available. His idea was to use the heat generated in compressing air in a cylinder to ignite a fuel mixture. His first engine, using petroleum oil, was a four-stroke single cylinder design generating 25 horsepower. It was displayed in 1898, and Diesel soon became a millionaire. After this triumph, his life became filled with patent arguments and commercial problems, and in 1913 he committed suicide by jumping from a ship.
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