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Flywheels are used to smooth the power from the power-stroke and provide sufficient inertia to power the next compression stroke.

With Diesels, the compression is higher and therefor the effects of the bang greater (and resultingly higher torque). the diesel needs the larger wheel to smooth the running....you can use a smaller flywheelt han the calculations would suggest, but that generally gives a very rough running and unexpected vibration.

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All of the answers above are good.

G.B. Reid is particularly on the mark when he speaks of the greater bang in the diesel resulting in the need for a greater flywheel MMOI. Amit Choudary is also correct when he points out that the additional MMOI stores more energy to enable completion of the compression stroke.

We need to be somewhat careful, however, in making the statement, "Diesel engines need larger flywheels than gasoline engines." That is simply too broad. A small diesel and a very large gasoline engine cannot be compared.

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