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December 19, 2016   |   BBC


How Rudolf Diesel's engine changed the world: 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

It was only after World War One that Diesel's invention began to realise its commercial potential. The first diesel-powered trucks appeared in the 1920s, trains in the 1930s. By 1939 a quarter of global sea trade was fuelled by diesel.

After World War Two, ever more powerful and efficient diesel engines led to ever more enormous ships. Fuel accounts for around 70% of the costs of shipping goods around the world. Scientist Vaclav Smil argues that steam-powered globalisation would have grown much more slowly than diesel allowed.

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