How an internal cumbustion engine works

Essay by newmster32College, UndergraduateA+, November 2002

download word file, 11 pages 4.5


Internal Combustion Engine, a heat engine in which the fuel is burned (

that is, united with oxygen ) within the confining space of the engine itself.

This burning process releases large amounts of energy, which are transformed

into work through the mechanism of the engine. This type of engine different

from the steam engine, which process with an external combustion engine that

fuel burned apart from the engine. The principal types of internal combustion

engine are : reciprocating engine such as Otto-engine, and Diesel engines ; and

rotary engines, such as the Wankel engine and the Gas-turbine engine.

In general, the internal combustion engine has become the means of

propulsion in the transportation field, with the exception of large ships

requiring over 4,000 shaft horsepower ( hp).

In stationary applications, size of unit and local factor often

determine the choice between the use of steam and diesel engine.

Diesel power

plants have a distinct economic advantage over steam engine when size of the

plant is under about 1,000 hp. However there are many diesel engine plants much

large than this. Internal combustion engines are particularly appropriate for

seasonal industries, because of the small standby losses with these engines

during the shutdown period.


The first experimental internal combustion engine was made by a Dutch

astronomer, Christian Huygens, who, in 1680, applied a principle advanced by

Jean de Hautefeuille in 1678 for drawing water. This principle was based on the

fact that the explosion of a small amount of gunpowder in a closed chamber

provided with escape valves would create a vacuum when the gases of combustion

cooled. Huygens, using a cylinder containing a piston, was able to move it in

this manner by the external atmospheric pressure.

The first commercially practical internal combustion engine was built by...