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Internal combustion engine

The internal combustion (IC) engine has been the dominant prime mover in our society since its invention in the last quarter of the 19th. Its purpose is to generate mechanical power from the chemical energy contained in the fuel and released through combustion of the fuel inside the engine. It is this specific point, that fuel is burned inside the work-producing part of the engine, that gives IC engines their name and distinguishes them from other types such as external combustion engines. The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel (normally a fossil fuel) occurs with an oxidizer (usually air) in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and -pressure gases produced by combustion applies direct force to some component of the engine, such as pistons, turbine blades, or a nozzle. This force moves the component over a distance, generating useful mechanical energy. The term internal combustion engine usually refers to an engine in which combustion is intermittent, such as the more familiar four-stroke and two-stroke piston engines. A second class of internal combustion engines use continuous combustion: gas turbines, jet engines and most rocket engines, each of which are internal combustion engines on the same principle as previously described. The internal combustion engine (or IC Engine) is quite different from external combustion engines, such as steam or Stirling engines, in which the energy is delivered to a working fluid not consisting of, mixed with, or contaminated by combustion products. Working fluids can be air, hot water, pressurized water or even liquid sodium, heated in some kind of boiler. A large number of different designs for IC Engines have been developed and built, with a variety of different strengths and weaknesses. Powered by an energy-dense fuel (which is very frequently gasoline, a liquid derived from fossil fuels). While there have been and still are many stationary applications, the real strength of internal combustion engines is in mobile applications and they dominate as a power supply for cars, aircraft, and boats.

The Basic 4 stroke Internal Combustion Engine

Internal combustion engines are used in applications ranging from marine propulsion and power generating sets with capacity exceeding 100 MW to hand-held tools where the power delivered is less than 100 W. This implies that the size and characteristics of today's engines vary widely between large diesels having cylinder bores exceeding 1,000 mm and reciprocating at speeds as low as 100 rpm to small gasoline two-stroke engines with cylinder bores around 20 mm. Within these two extremes lie medium-speed diesel engines, heavy-duty automotive diesels, truck and passenger car engines, aircraft engines, motorcycle engines and small industrial engines. From all these types, the passenger car gasoline and diesel engines have a prominent position since they are, by far, the largest produced engines in the world; as such, their influence on social and economic life is of paramount importance. Where very high power-to-weight ratios are required, internal combustion engines appear in the form of gas turbines. These applications include jet aircraft,helicopters, large ships and electric generators.

Types of internal combustion engine

Engines can be classified in many different ways: By the engine cycle used, the layout of the engine, source of energy, the use of the engine, or by the cooling system employed.

Engine configurations
Internal combustion engines can be classified by their configuration. Common layouts of engines are: Reciprocating: Two-stroke engine Four-stroke engine Diesel engine Atkinson cycle Miller cycle

Rotary: Wankel engine

Continuous combustion: Gas turbine Jet engine (including turbojet, turbofan, ramjet, Rocket, etc.)

As their name implies, four-stroke internal combustion engines have four basic steps that repeat with every two revolutions of the engine: (1) Intake stroke (2) Compression stroke (3) Power stroke and (4) Exhaust stroke

Operation of a 4-stroke IC Engine

1. Intake stroke: The first stroke of the internal combustion engine is also known as the suction stroke because the piston moves to the maximum volume position (downward direction in the cylinder). The inlet valve opens as a result of piston movement, and the vaporized fuel mixture enters the combustion chamber. The inlet valve closes at the end of this stroke.

2. Compression stroke: In this stroke, both valves are closed and the piston starts its movement to the minimum volume position (upward direction in the cylinder) and compresses the fuel mixture. During the compression process, pressure, temperature and the density of the fuel mixture increases.

3. Power stroke: When the piston reaches the minimum volume position, the spark plug ignites the fuel mixture and burns. The fuel produces power that is transmitted to the crank shaft mechanism.

4. Exhaust stroke: In the end of the power stroke, the exhaust valve opens. During this stroke, the piston starts its movement in the minimum volume position. The open exhaust valve allows the exhaust gases to escape the cylinder. At the end of this stroke, the exhaust valve closes, the inlet valve opens, and the sequence repeats in the next cycle. Four stroke engines require two revolutions.