Birth of a New Diesel

March 23, 2010 11:09 AM


March 18 is National Biodiesel Day and it's fitting. It's also the birth date of Rudolf Diesel, the man who invented the diesel engine. You can also thank the French-born inventor for the refrigeration system now used in many electrical refrigerators, but that's another story.
Diesel battled many manufacturing, licensing and financial troubles to bring his diesel engine to the world. He originally designed the diesel engine to be run on peanut oil. In a 1912 speech, Diesel said "the use of vegetable oils for fuels may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become, in the course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time."
Diesel was motivated by the thought of utilizing locally available fuels. At the time large industries virtually monopolized the then predominant power source—steam. The diesel engine he produced in 1894 had a mechanical efficiency of more than 75%, while steam engines of the time were operating on less than 10% efficiency.
Diesel engines have come a long way baby. Today, 152 years after his birth, we're still bringing new diesel engines into the world and we're still trying to convert to veggie-based oils. According to, the 500 million gallons of fuel the U.S. biodiesel industry produced in 2007 offset nearly 12 million barrels of petroleum oil.
This spring, an all-new Ford engineered and built 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 turbocharged diesel engine comes down the road in the 2011 Ford F-series Super Duty. The truck allows blends up to 20% biodiesel. Farm Journal recently sent Kent Sundling, a.k.a. Mr. Truck, to Arizona to test this new truck.
The diesel engine has 735 ft.-lb. torque (at 1,600 rpm) and 390 horsepower (at 2,800 rpm)  85 ft.-lb. and 40 horsepower more than the 6.4L, notes Sundling.
"The big news is fuel mileage," he says. "The outgoing 6.4L Power Stroke diesel was last place in the MPG race and the all new 6.7L may very well be the new fuel mileage leader with an 18 % improvement for the diesel pickups and 25% improvement in diesel cassis cabs compared to the 2010 models. Driving a few hundred miles in Arizona from 4500 ft to 1500 ft with a 1000 lb payload onboard, the diesels I drove showed 20 to 23 mpg on the Ford info center screen."
The all new 6.7L Power Stroke diesel is reverse flow with the exhaust manifold in the valley below the dual compressor wheel turbo and the intake flows into the aluminum heads to the outside ports. "There are two EGR coolers, two complete cooling systems and pumps called high temp and low temp cooling systems on the diesel. Transmission, steering, intercooler and even engine cooling circulate thru the new separate radiators. Looking under the hood exposes the large radiator running up above the grill. Ford claims engine service is simpler with less need to pull the cab for surgery," Sundling notes.
"The extra power allows higher axle ratios similar to what semi trucks have done for better fuel mileage. The engine can even lug down to 900 RPM and have the transmissions torque converter still locked thanks to a new TC damper. Another part of the MPG equation is the torque converter will lock up sooner and stay locked up longer in Tow Mode, acting like a manual transmission. With 4 transmission modes, normal, tow, progressive and manual, you can let the truck do the work, shift yourself or control in progressive mode what the highest gear will be. In tow haul mode, you can downshift by tapping on the brake all the way from 6th to 1st as the RPM's will allow. The lower torque peak power RPM of 1600 and double overdrive, will let the diesel engine run slower and that helps quiet the engine."
Diesel engines account for 65% of Super Duty sales and this new diesel enables towing capability of 26, 400 pounds on chassis cabs and 24,400 pounds on pickups. Ford says 97% of Super Duty customers are towers. For more information on the new Super Duty trucks go to:
Listen in as Ford engineer and South Dakota farmer,  Don Ufford, takes you on tour of the new 2011 Super Duty:

You can email Pam Smith at

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