Born in 1858 in Paris, France to German parents, Rudolph Diesel was a considered a good student and schooled in the Ecole Primaire Superieure and, later, Technische Hochschule. He developed the concept of using high-pressure to ignite fuel in an internal combustion engine instead of spark plugs. Because his engines were similar to Herbert Akroyd Stuart, he was involved in several patent disputes, eventually winning them.
Diesel originally used peanut oil for his engines. A year before his mysterious death, he said, “the use of vegetable oils for engine 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.”
Rudolph Diesel was also a protégé to refrigeration pioneer Carl von Linde and is credited with some of that appliance's processes.