Technology Showdown: Diesel vs. Gasoline

1. Because they lack an ignition source (i.e. magnetos and spark plugs), diesels incorporate glow plugs for cold starting. Heat from compressed air ignites the fuel-air mixture.

2. Diesels must use high-pressure fuel injector nozzles to pump fuel directly into the cylinders. The injector has to be able to withstand the temperature and pressure inside the cylinder and still deliver the fuel in a fine mist.

3. Diesels deliver slightly less horsepower than gasoline engines of the same displacement but three to four times the torque.

4. Diesels emit less carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and carbon dioxide, emissions that lead to global warming.

5. It takes less refining to produce jet fuel compared with gasoline. That's one reason jet-A costs less than avgas.

6. Because diesels have higher compression ratios that require heavier casting, they weigh more than gasoline engines.

7. Diesel fuel has a higher energy density than gasoline. This, combined with improved efficiency, explains why diesels are more economical.

8. Biodiesel use is increasing in the United States and could be a viable future fuel for aviation.

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