What is a 'common rail' diesel engine?

bonebloodyidleFebruary 10, 2008

I had an Opel Vectra 2.0dti (this is badged as a Saturn Aura in the US) but a lady driving with her eyes shut forced me into a ditch where I hit a tree and bounced back into the path of an oncoming truck. My Vectra was written off by the insurance company and the police threw the book at the lady. Now we get down to business. I had my wreck towed to the garage I bought it from who only had one diesel car in stock. It was an Opel Astra 1.3cdti. I giggled at first, thinking that a 1.3 petrol car is gutless enough, let alone a 1.3 diesel. I let the salesman know about my concerns so he gave me the car on a week's free trial. All I can say is that witchcraft must take place under the bonnett of these common rail diesels. The performance they give is unbelievable for the cubic capacity available. I used to laugh at the Toyota adverts for their D4D engines, and the Nissan DCI, Ford TDCi etc... all saying they produce the same power output as a 2000cc diesel engine of yesteryear but I have been proven wrong. So what is a common rail diesel engine and how does it produce so much power from such a small cubic capacity?

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Common rail is just another way of feeding fuel to the
cylinders. It uses one high pressure rail to feed individual solanoids for the injectors instead of low pressure fuel feeding a high pressure pump with individual
pipes for each injector.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 10:27AM
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I wish diesels were as common over here as they are over there. I've heard of Europe's pocket rocket diesels.

I read that if diesel autos were as common over here as in Europe, our demand for oil would be cut in half. But when California, New York, Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont won't allow light duty diesels, the automakers won't market them to the rest of the country.

I had a VW diesel in 1982. The car itself was a piece of crap, but I did get an honest 50 MPG! And I would buy another one tomorrow if they were allowed here.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 7:38AM
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Yes, what's really boosting the power of those little diesels is turbocharging.

Also, to agree with Christopherh, if we saved all that fuel, just think of the advantages that would accrue to the environment - fewer emissions due to all those fewer gallons of fuel being burned, not to mention saving all the "secondary" pollution caused by locating, recovering, refining and transporting all those excess gallons of fuel we burn here because diesels are "too dirty for us." Time to revise the way we look at emissions, and think in terms of CO2 as the Europeans do.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2008 at 11:07AM
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Never mind the CO2 output or your views on global warming, the fact that we can't get away from is that fossil fuels are a finite resource. Once they're gone, they're gone. So the oil producing countries agree that $100 for a barrell of crude is fair, and some say even this is too low. Well once the oil finally runs out and they have nothing left to base their economy on I reckon $100 for a head of lettuce from my farm is a fair price. Let's see how they complain when the shoe is on the other foot.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 6:44PM
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Good points, but a nice step we could take right now would be to get more of those efficient diesels over here so we can forestall the day when the oil does run out. And in the process, we can do the environment a favor, too.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 11:32PM
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There is plenty of oil. Studies have found the possible largest reserve in the world is in the Gulf of Mexico. Possibly larger than the Arabian fields. And Alaska still has untapped proven fields. Red China is going to drill for oil just 52 miles off the coast of Florida, but we cannot. And do you think they are going to put that oil on the world market?
And there has been a recent discovery of possibly 2 BILLION barrels in BRAZIL.

What we need to do is reduce our consumption. And diesels will do just that. But the rocket scientists in government feel that taxation is good, so here in the USA, diesel fuel is taxed at 18 cents per gallon. Gasoline is taxed at 11 cents.

There is enough untapped oil right here in North America. And yes some other source needs to come along. But BATTERIES are not the solution. (How much will the replacement batteris in a Prius cost, and who will pay for it?) And currently it takes more energy to produce hydrogen than it makes, so that's still in the future.

We need to conserve, and the new Blutec Diesels are the eay to go. (50 STATE LEGAL!) But America still remembers how GM Murdered the diesel in the early 80s.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 7:45AM
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Yes, if you are in charge of a resource that has recently tripled to quadrupled in value, as the oil companies are, how much motivation do you have to go and look for more so you can dump it into the market and lower prices? Not much. But, capitalism being what it is, there are now more and more small drilling companies that are actively looking to cash in on these $100 a barrel prices. That is, after all, the silver lining of high prices: Not only do they encourage conservation, they also make it profitable to find oil in places that were not profitable at $25 a barrel.

I agree with you on the overall silliness of hybrids, in the big picture. If you look at the Euro emission specs, there is a small diesel, I think it is a VW Polo TDI, that they say is as "green" as the Prius -- and there are no batteries and no nickel production or waste to deal with. But you can't sell it here. We do, of course, have plenty of 15 mpg SUVs that meet all U.S. emission specs, but a 50 mpg diesel can't. There's something wrong there.

As far as how much total oil is in North America or anywhere else, there are obviously many opinions among petroleum geologists on that point. There have been several times in history when they were convinced the oil was about to run out; I think I recall reading that the first such occurrence was before 1900. But I think we can agree that oil is a finite resource and one day it will run out, so anything we can do, such as allowing more high-mpg diesels to be sold here, would be a good step to take.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 3:01PM
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****We do, of course, have plenty of 15 mpg SUVs that meet all U.S. emission specs, but a 50 mpg diesel can't. There's something wrong there.****

The new BLUTEC diesels are 50 state legal as far as emissions go. They pass the California emissons laws. They are as clean as any other engine. And the Jetta with the new engine gets 44 MPG real world. No batteries, no regenerative systems to fail, no paying the tech for schooling, Just a good old fashioned engine that you can take to the local guy for repairs.

But let's get some facts straight on the evil oil companies shall we? Exxon does not get one DIME for the oil from the Arabian Gulf. The Shieks get all the money, and pay the companies to do the dirty work. But that's different here in the USA. If you strike oil in your backyard, that oil money is all yours. So Exxon buys the land and spends the money to explore for the oil. They spend the money to extract the oil. They work the logistics to get the oil from the site and have it all in place before they get paid for it. Then they have to refine it. THEN they get paid.

Big evil oil made an average of 8.2 CENTS per dollar in sales last year. EIGHT CENTS! The Government made TWICE AS MUCH on that same oil! And yes, EXXON may own wells here in the US and they made an OBSCENE profit of TEN CENTS per dollar earned! Yes, they earned 36 Billion last year in profits. But they had to sell 360 Billion gallons to do it!

But it's estimated that 42% of Americans get money from those profits via 401Ks or company pension plans. Because those plans are indeed buying oil stocks every day. Wouldn't you?

Now the land in the Gulf of Mexico is not private land. So I feel the Government should call it Federal Land just like out west and get all the oil money from the wells as is done in the Arabian Gulf. Pay the companies just like the Arabs do. The Treasury will fill up and we'll have our own oil.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 8:11AM
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Exxon and the other oil companies make a LOT of money on oil from the Persian Gulf: They buy it at wholesale and sell it at retail, refining it and marketing it. There's markup every step of the way, as you'd expect in any profit-making enterprise.

But where they're making the most money is on their own oil reserves, which are now worth far more than they used to be because the price is set on a world market. I don't know where your comment about "evil oil companies" comes from. I neither said nor implied that they are evil. I'm sure they're thrilled that they now have an asset worth four times as much as it was a few years back, just as you or I would be.

As far as all the figures of what they do or don't make per barrel or gallon, you need to look back over the figures you wrote because they don't make any sense. You say at one point Exxon made 8.2 cents per dollar in sales, and you also claim they had to sell 360 billion gallons to make 36 billion dollars. Gas is about three bucks a gallon, so if they are making a 10 percent or 8 percent profit (whichever it is - you stated both) that would be 24 to 30 cents a gallon, not 8 or 10.

Raw numbers like that mean little, anyway. Different percentages of net profitability are reasonable in different businesses. I find it hard to believe that the oil companies aren't doing pretty well at the moment, but if you think they're only marginally profitable, you certainly have a right to that view.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 3:08PM
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MY mistake. "Big Oil" made an AVERAGE of 8.2 CENTS (NOT PERcent) profit per GALLON. EXXON made 10 cents. And yes, Exxon owns the wells they drill here in the USA. But nobody was crying about the profits when oil was trading at 25 bucks per barrel.

But back to the original post. Diesels WILL impact the price of oil if widely used here. And until we have another energy source that isn't using FOOD as it's main ingredient, oil is the best way to go. So let's get more diesels on the road and oil prices will drop.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 8:10AM
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Good point Christopherh regarding food. As oil as we know ir becomes more scarce, the higher the potential rewards for growing bio fuels will be. Let's face it, there are countries in this world with very corrupt governments who will set aside huge areas of land previously used for growing crops in order to grow petrol. You think the starving in Africa or the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest is bad now. You ain't seen nothing yet.

Back to the original point of my posting though. I get 50mpg out of my Astra while driving it like I have sat on a wasp. If I drove like a priest I would forget where the filling station was.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 7:38PM
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Most people forget that it takes approx. %25 fossile fuel
to make one gal. of bio diesel. The U.S. gets most of it's
oil from Canada not europe and when all cars and vehicles
get 60 plus M.P.G. the price of oil will sky rocket because they will create an artificial shortage and unless
they figure out a way to refine bio diesle without fossil
fuels bio will sky rocket too. Besides, the oil companies
will be very upset they didn't make their one billion dollar first quarter profit. Canada has enough coal and
tar sands to supply north amarica at it's present growth
with fossil fuel for the next 500 years or so. we just sent
you two 48 inch high pressure natural gas pipe lines 7
years ago. They both go under the road about a mile from me.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 11:34AM
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The oil companies do not set the price of oil at th ewellhead. That is set by commodities traders just like pork bellies.
I agree there's enough oil right here in North America for 250 years. Crude, oil sands, shale oil, and the king, COAL. The nice thing about biodiesel is that we don't need FOOD to process it. Sunflowers, grass, and another flower I can't think of which a number of local farmers are growing and making into their own biodiesel for the tractors. We're on the cusp of something big here.

And as far as diesel vehicles go, I know Ford is developing a small diesel for the new 2010 F150. The first diesel in a light duty pickup since the VW.

When the demand decreases, the price goes down. And yes even if the Canadians cut production to keep prices high, if we're driving cars that get 50 MPG it won't mater as we won't be buying as much anyway.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 7:54AM
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