Diesel Engine Fundamentals

Lawrence J. Marchetti, P.E.

Course Outline

This 4-hour course utilizes US Department of Energy training materials (DOE-HDBK-1018/1-93, Mechanical Science, Vol. 1, Module 1) to describe the components and theory of operation for a diesel engine which is commonly used as a prime mover for emergency electrical generators. Although several types of prime movers are available (gasoline engines, steam turbines, gas turbines), the diesel engine is the most commonly used.

This course includes a True-False quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Course Introduction

Most large commercial, industrial, and institutional facilities require an emergency power to supply power to supply electrical power to critical mechanical and electrical equipment upon the loss of the normal power source. The diesel engine is the most commonly used prime mover for this application. Relatively speaking, diesel engines are small, inexpensive, powerful, fuel efficient, and extremely reliable.

Because of the widespread use of diesel engine emergency generators, a basic understanding of the theory and operation of a diesel engine and their components is necessary.

The course content is generic in nature. Specific information on a particular engine should be obtained directly from the engine manufacturer.

Course Content

The the course content is in a PDF file DOE-HDBK-1018/1-93, Mechanical Science, Vol. 1, Module 1. You are required to study Module-1.

Module-1 Diesel Engine Fundamental contains three (3) sections:

a. Diesel Engines
b. Fundamental of the Diesel Cycle
c. Diesel Engine Speed, Fuel, Controls, and Protection.

You need to open or download this document to study this course.

Course Summary

Diesel engines are the most common prime mover for emergency generators. Because of the critical electrical loads this equipment must serve, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers involved in the design, and selection of emergency generators require a basic understanding of diesel engine theory, operation, and components. The following course will provide the fundamental framework for this knowledge.

Related Reading

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

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DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDHonline.org or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered professional engineer. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.