Internal combustion engine
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The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of fuel and an oxidizer (typically air) occurs in a confined space called a combustion chamber. This exothermic reaction creates gases at high temperature and pressure, which are permitted to expand. The defining feature of an internal combustion engine is that useful work is performed by the expanding hot gases acting directly to cause movement of solid parts of the engine, by acting on pistons, rotors, or even by pressing on and moving the entire engine itself.
This contrasts with external combustion engines, such as steam engines and Stirling engines, which use an external combustion chamber to heat a separate working fluid, which then in turn does work, for example by moving a piston or a turbine.
The term Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) is almost always used to refer specifically to reciprocating piston engines, Wankel engines and similar designs in which combustion is intermittent. However, continuous combustion engines, such as jet engines, most rockets and many gas turbines are also internal combustion engines.
The first internal combustion engines did not have compression, but ran on air/fuel mixture sucked or blown in during the first part of the intake stroke. The most significant distinction between modern internal combustion engines and the early designs is the use of compression and in particular of in-cylinder compression.
- 1206: Al-Jazari demonstrates an early rotary to reciprocating motion, which is a waterwheel-powered pump
- 1509: Leonardo da Vinci described a compression-less engine.
- 1673: Christiaan Huygens described a compression-less engine.
- 17th century: English inventor Sir Samuel Morland used gunpowder to drive water pumps, essentially creating the first rudimentary internal combustion engine.
- 1780's: Alessandro Volta built a toy electric pistol () in which an electric spark exploded a mixture of air and hydrogen, firing a cork from the end of the gun.
- 1794: Robert Street built a compression-less engine whose principle of operation would dominate for nearly a century.
- 1806: Swiss engineer François Isaac de Rivaz built an internal combustion engine powered by a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen.
- 1823: Samuel Brown patented the first internal combustion engine to be applied industrially. It was compression-less and based on what Hardenberg calls the "Leonardo cycle," which, as this name implies, was already out of date at that time.
- 1824: French physicist Sadi Carnot established the thermodynamic theory of idealized heat engines. This scientifically established the need for compression to increase the difference between the upper and lower working temperatures.
- 1826 April 1: The American Samuel Morey received a patent for a compression-less "Gas Or Vapor Engine".
- 1838: a patent was granted to William Barnet (English). This was the first recorded suggestion of in-cylinder compression.
- 1854: The Italians Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci patented the first working efficient internal combustion engine in London (pt. Num. 1072) but did not go into production with it. It was similar in concept to the successful Otto Langen indirect engine, but not so well worked out in detail.
- 1856: in Florence at Fonderia del Pignone (now Nuovo Pignone, a subsidiary of General Electric) Pietro Benini realized a working prototype of the Barsanti-Matteucci engine, supplying 5 HP. In subsequent years he developed more powerful engines - with one or two pistons - which served as steady power sources, replacing steam engines.
- 1860: Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir (1822 - 1900) produced a gas-fired internal combustion engine closely similar in appearance to a horizontal double-acting steam beam engine, with cylinders, pistons, connecting rods, and flywheel in which the gas essentially took the place of the steam. This was the first internal combustion engine to be produced in numbers.
- 1862: German inventor Nikolaus Otto designed an indirect-acting free-piston compression-less engine whose greater efficiency won the support of Langen and then most of the market, which at that time, was mostly for small stationary engines fueled by lighting gas.
- 1870: In Vienna Siegfried Marcus put the first mobile gasoline engine on a handcart.
- 1876: Nikolaus Otto working with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach developed a practical four-stroke cycle (Otto cycle) engine. The German courts, however, did not hold his patent to cover all in-cylinder compression engines or even the four stroke cycle, and after this decision in-cylinder compression became universal.
- 1879: Karl Benz, working independently, was granted a patent for his internal combustion engine, a reliable two-stroke gas engine, based on Nikolaus Otto's design of the four-stroke engine. Later Benz designed and built his own four-stroke engine that was used in his automobiles, which became the first automobiles in production.
- 1882: James Atkinson invented the Atkinson cycle engine. Atkinson’s engine had one power phase per revolution together with different intake and expansion volumes making it more efficient than the Otto cycle.
- 1891 - Herbert Akroyd Stuart built his oil engine, leasing rights to Hornsby of England to build them. They build the first cold start, compression ignition engines. In 1892, they installed the first ones in a water pumping station. An experimental higher-pressure version produced self-sustaining ignition through compression alone in the same year.
- 1892: Rudolf Diesel developed his Carnot heat engine type motor burning powdered coal dust.
- 1893 February 23: Rudolf Diesel received a patent for the diesel engine.
- 1896: Karl Benz invented the boxer engine, also known as the horizontally opposed engine, in which the corresponding pistons reach top dead centre at the same time, thus balancing each other in momentum.
- 1900: Rudolf Diesel demonstrated the diesel engine in the 1900 Exposition Universelle (World's Fair) using peanut oil (see biodiesel).
- 1900: Wilhelm Maybach designed an engine built at Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft—following the specifications of Emil Jellinek—who required the engine to be named Daimler-Mercedes after his daughter. In 1902 automobiles with that engine were put into production by DMG.
Internal combustion engines are most commonly used for mobile propulsion in automobiles, equipment, and other portable machinery. In mobile equipment internal combustion is advantageous, since it can provide high power to weight ratios together with excellent fuel energy-density. These engines have appeared in transport in almost all automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and in a wide variety of aircraft and locomotives, generally using petroleum (called All-Petroleum Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles or APICEVs) . Where very high power is required, such as jet aircraft, helicopters and large ships, they appear mostly in the form of turbines.
They are also used for electric generators (i.e. 12 V generators) and by industry.
All internal combustion engines depend on the exothermic chemical process of combustion: the reaction of a fuel, typically with the oxygen from the air, although other oxidizers such as nitrous oxide may be employed. Also see stoichiometry.
The most common modern fuels are made up of hydrocarbons and are derived from mostly petroleum. These include the fuels known as dieselfuel, gasoline and petroleum gas, and the rarer use of propane gas. Most internal combustion engines designed for gasoline can run on natural gas or liquefied petroleum gases without major modifications except for the fuel delivery components. Liquid and gaseous biofuels, such as Ethanol and biodiesel, a form of diesel fuel that is produced from crops that yield triglycerides such as soy bean oil, can also be used. Some can also run on Hydrogen gas.
All internal combustion engines must achieve ignition in their cylinders to create combustion. Typically engines use either a spark ignition (SI) method or a compression ignition (CI) system. In the past other methods using hot tubes or flames have been used.
 Petroleum internal combustion engines
 Gasoline Ignition Process
Electrical/Gasoline-type ignition systems (that can also run on other fuels as previously mentioned) generally rely on a combination of a lead-acid battery and an induction coil to provide a high voltage electrical spark to ignite the air-fuel mix in the engine's cylinders. This battery can be recharged during operation using an electricity-generating device, such as an alternator or generator driven by the engine. Gasoline engines take in a mixture of air and gasoline and compress to less than 185 psi and use a spark plug to ignite the mixture when it is compressed by the piston head in each cylinder.
 Diesel Engine Ignition Process
Compression ignition systems, such as the diesel engine and HCCI engines, rely solely on heat and pressure created by the engine in its compression process for ignition. Compression that occurs is usually more than three times higher than a gasoline engine. Diesel engines will take in air only, and shortly before peak compression, a small quantity of diesel fuel is sprayed into the cylinder via a fuel injector that allows the fuel to instantly ignite. HCCI type engines will take in both air and fuel but will continue to rely on an unaided auto-combustion process due to higher pressures and heat. This is also why diesel and HCCI engines are also more susceptible to cold starting issues though they will run just as well in cold weather once started. Most diesels also have battery and charging systems, however this system is secondary and is added by manufacturers as luxury for ease of starting, turning fuel on and off (which can also be done via a switch or mechanical apparatus), and for running auxiliary electrical components and accessories. Most old engines, however, rely on electrical systems that also control the combustion process to increase efficiency and reduce emissions.
 Energy and pollution
Once ignited and burnt, the combustion products, hot gases, have more available energy than the original compressed fuel/air mixture (which had higher chemical energy). The available energy is manifested as high temperature and pressure which can be translated into work by the engine. In a reciprocating engine, the high pressure product gases inside the cylinders drive the engine's pistons.
Once the available energy has been removed, the remaining hot gases are vented (often by opening a valve or exposing the exhaust outlet) and this allows the piston to return to its previous position (Top Dead Center - TDC). The piston can then proceed to the next phase of its cycle, which varies between engines. Any heat not translated into work is normally considered a waste product, and is removed from the engine either by an air or liquid cooling system.
 Engine Efficiency
The efficiency of various types of internal combustion engines vary, but it is lower than electric motor energy efficiency. Most gasoline fueled internal combustion engines, even when aided with turbochargers and stock efficiency aids, have a mechanical efficiency of about 20% . The efficiency may be as high as 37% at the optimum operating point in engines where this is a high priority such as that of the Prius. Most internal combustion engines waste about 36% of the energy in gasoline as heat lost to the cooling system and another 38% through the exhaust. The rest, about 6%, is lost to friction.
Hydrogen Fuel Injection, or HFI, is an engine add on system that improves the fuel economy of internal combustion engines by injecting hydrogen as a combustion enhancement into the intake manifold. Fuel economy gains of 15% to 50% can be seen. A small amount of hydrogen added to the intake air-fuel charge increases the octane rating of the combined fuel charge and enhances the flame velocity, thus permitting the engine to operate with more advanced ignition timing, a higher compression ratio, and a leaner air-to-fuel mixture than otherwise possible. The result is lower pollution with more power and increased efficiency. Some HFI systems use an on board electrolyzer to generate the small amount of hydrogen needed in the system, around 5% of total Btu. A small tank of pressurized hydrogen can also be used, but this method necessitates refilling. Hydrogen in liquid form is seldom used because it is difficult to store.
There has also been discussion of new types of internal combustion engines, such as the Scuderi Split Cycle Engine, that utilize high compression pressures in excess of 2000 psi and combust after top-dead-center (the highest & most compressed point in an internal combustion piston stroke). The claimed efficiency of this engine, by calculation, is 42%. This has yet to be demonstrated as of March 2007.
 Engine pollution
Generally internal combustion engines, particularly reciprocating internal combustion engines, produce moderately high pollution levels, due to incomplete combustion of carbonaceous fuel, leading to carbon monoxide and some soot along with oxides of nitrogen & sulfur and some unburnt hydrocarbons depending on the operating conditions and the fuel/air ratio. The primary causes of this are the need to operate near the stoichiometric ratio for petrol engines in order to achieve combustion (the fuel would burn more completely in excess air) and the "quench" of the flame by the relatively cool cylinder walls. Quenching is commonly observed in diesel (compression ignition) engines which run on natural gas, when running at lower speed. It dramatically reduces the efficiency and increases knocking and might cause the engine to stall.
Diesel engines produce a wide range of pollutants including aerosols of many small particles (PM10) that are believed to penetrate deeply into human lungs. Engines running on liquified petroleum gas (LPG) are very low in emissions as LPG burns very cleanly and does not contain sulphur or lead.
- Many fuels contain sulfur leading to sulfur oxides (SOx) in the exhaust, promoting acid rain.
- The high temperature of combustion creates greater proportions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), demonstrated to be hazardous to both plant and animal health.
- Net carbon dioxide production is not a necessary feature of engines, but since most engines are run from fossil fuels this usually occurs. If engines are run from biomass, then no net carbon dioxide is produced as the growing plants absorb as much, or more carbon dioxide while growing.
- Hydrogen engines need only produce water, but when air is used as the oxidizer nitrogen oxides are also produced.
For a four-stroke engine, key parts of the engine include the crankshaft (purple), one or more camshafts (red and blue) and valves. For a two-stroke engine, there may simply be an exhaust outlet and fuel inlet instead of a valve system. In both types of engines, there are one or more cylinders (grey and green) and for each cylinder there is a spark plug (darker-grey), a piston (yellow) and a crank (purple). A single sweep of the cylinder by the piston in an upward or downward motion is known as a stroke. The downward stroke that occurs directly after the air/fuel mix passes from the carburetor to the cylinder where it is ignited is known as a power stroke.
A Wankel engine has a triangular rotor that orbits in an epitrochoidal (figure 8 shape) chamber around an eccentric shaft. The four phases of operation (intake, compression, power, exhaust) take place in separate locations, instead of one single location as in a reciprocating engine.
A Bourke Engine uses a pair of pistons integrated to a Scotch Yoke that transmits reciprocating force through a specially designed bearing assembly to turn a crank mechanism. Intake, compression, power, and exhaust occur in each stroke.
The fundamental difference between an engine and a motor is that a motor converts electricity into mechanical energy whereas an engine converts thermal energy into mechanical energy. At one time, the word "engine" (from Latin, via Old French, ingenium, "ability") meant any piece of machinery — a sense the persists in expressions such as siege engine. A "motor" (from Latin motor, "mover") is any machine that produces mechanical power. Traditionally, electric motors are not referred to as "engines," but combustion engines are often referred to as "motors." (An electric engine refers to locomotive operated by electricity).
However, many people consider engines as those things which generate their power from within, and motors as requiring an outside source of energy to perform their work.
 Principles of operation
- Crude oil engine
- Two-stroke cycle
- Four-stroke cycle
- Six stroke engine
- Hot bulb engine
- Diesel engine
- Poppet valves
- Sleeve valve
- Atkinson cycle
 Engine cycle
Engines based on the two-stroke cycle use two strokes (one up, one down) for every power stroke. Since there are no dedicated intake or exhaust strokes, alternative methods must be used to scavenge the cylinders. The most common method in spark-ignition two-strokes is to use the downward motion of the piston to pressurize fresh charge in the crankcase, which is then blown through the cylinder through ports in the cylinder walls.
Spark-ignition two-strokes are small and light (for their power output), and mechanically very simple; they are also generally less efficient and more polluting than their four-stroke counterparts. However in single cylinder small motor applications cc for cc, a two-stroke engine produces much more power than equivalent 4 strokes due to the enormous advantage of having 1 power stroke for every 360 degrees of crankshaft rotation (compared to 720 degrees in a 4 stroke motor).
Two-stroke engines have been less fuel-efficient than other types of engines because unspent fuel being sprayed into the combustion chamber can sometimes escape out of the exhaust duct with the previously spent fuel. Without special exhaust processing, this can produce high pollution levels. Whilst two-stroke motors remain popular in Europe and Asia, they are penalised in some American markets such as California for this reason.
Research continues into improving many aspects of two-stroke motors, including direct fuel injection amongst other things. Initial results have produced motors that are much cleaner burning than their traditional counterparts.
The largest compression-ignition engines are two-strokes, and are used in some locomotives and large ships. These engines use forced induction to scavenge the cylinders. An example of this type of motor is the Wartsila-Sulzer turbocharged 2 stroke diesel as used in large container ships. It is the most efficient and powerful engine in the world, with over 50% thermal efficiency for comparison the most efficient small 4 stroke motors are around 43.0% thermal efficiency (SAE 900648), and size is an advantage for efficiency due to the increase in the ratio of volume to area.
Engines based on the four-stroke cycle or Otto cycle have one power stroke for every four strokes (up-down-up-down) and are used in cars, larger boats and many light aircraft. They are generally quieter, more efficient and larger than their two-stroke counterparts. There are a number of variations of these cycles, most notably the Atkinson and Miller cycles. Most truck and automotive diesel engines use a four-stroke cycle, but with a compression heating ignition system. This variation is called the diesel cycle. The steps involved here are:
1. Suction stroke - Air and vaporised fuel are drawn in
2. Compression stroke - Fuel vapor and air are compressed and ignited ()
3. Power stroke - Fuel combusts and piston is pushed downwards
4. Exhaust stroke - Exhaust is driven out
Engines based on the five-stroke cycle are a variant of the four stroke cycle. Normally the four cycles are intake, compression, combustion and exhaust. The fifth cycle added by Delautour is refrigeration. Engines running on a five-stroke cycle are up to 30 percent more efficient than an equivalent four stroke engine.
The six stroke engine captures the wasted heat from the 4 stroke Otto cycle and creates steam which simultaneously cools the engine while providing a free power stroke. This removes the need for a cooling system making the engine lighter plus giving 40% increased efficiency over the Otto Cycle.
Beare Head Technology combines a four stroke engine bottom end with a ported cylinder which closely resembles that of a two stroke, thus 4+2= Six Stroke. It has an opposing piston which acts in unison with auxiliary low pressure reed and rotary valves, allowing variable compression and a range of tuning options.
 Bourke engine
In this engine, two diametrically opposed cylinders are linked to the crank by the crank pin that floats on a "triple slipper bearing" (a type of hydrodynamic tilting-pad fluid bearing) that goes through the common scotch yoke. Unlike the common two stroke engine, the burnt gases and the incoming fresh air do not mix in the cylinders, contributing to a cleaner, more efficient operation. The scotch yoke mechanism also prevents side thrust, preventing any piston slap, allowing operation as a detonation or "explosion" engine. This also greatly reduces friction between pistons and cylinder walls. The Bourke engine's combustion phase more closely approximates constant volume combustion than either four stroke or two stroke cycles do. It also uses less moving parts and it has to overcome less friction than conventional crank and slider engines, with poppet valves. In addition, its greater expansion ratio also means more of the heat from its combustion phase is utilized than conventional spark ignition engines.
 Controlled Combustion Engine
These are also cylinder based engines and may be either single- or two-stroke but use, instead of a crankshaft and piston rods, two gear connected, counter rotating concentric cams to convert reciprocating motion into rotary movement. These cams practically cancel out sideward forces that would otherwise be exerted on the cylinders by the pistons, greatly improving mechanical efficiency. The number of lobes of the cams (always an odd number not less than 3) determines the piston travel versus the torque delivered. In this engine, there are two cylinders that are 180 degrees apart for each pair of counter-rotating cams. For single-stroke versions there are as many cycles per cylinder pair as there are lobes on each cam, and twice as many for two-stroke engines.
The Wankel engine (Rotary engine) does not have piston strokes so is more properly called a four-phase than a four-stroke engine. It operates with the same separation of phases as the four-stroke engine, with the phases taking place in separate locations in the engine. This engine provides three power 'strokes' per revolution per rotor [NOTE: While it is true that 3 power strokes occur per ROTOR revolution, due to the 3/1 revolution ratio of the rotor to the eccentric shaft, only 1 power stroke per shaft revolution actually occur], typically giving it a greater power-to-weight ratio than piston engines. This type of engine is most notably used in the current Mazda RX-8, the earlier RX-7, and other models.
 Gas turbine
Gas turbines cycles (notably jet engines), do not use the same system to both compress and then expand the gases; instead separate compression and expansion turbines are employed; giving continuous power. Essentially, the intake gas (normally air) is compressed, and then combusted with a fuel, which greatly raises the temperature and volume. The larger volume of hot gas from the combustion chamber is then fed through the gas turbine which is then able to power the compressor. The exhaust gas may be used to provide thrust, supplying only sufficient power to the turbine to compress incoming air (jet engine); or as much energy as possible can be supplied to the shaft (gas turbine proper).
 Disused methods
In some old non-compressing internal combustion engines: In the first part of the piston downstroke a fuel/air mixture was sucked or blown in. In the rest of the piston downstroke the inlet valve closed and the fuel/air mixture fired. In the piston upstroke the exhaust valve was open. This was an attempt at imitating the way a piston steam engine works.
 Fuels and oxidizers
Nowadays, fuels used include:
- Most methanol is made from coal.
- Gasoline-like fuels can be made from coal.
- Biofuels and vegoils:
Even fluidised metal powders and explosives have seen some use. Engines that use gases for fuel are called gas engines and those that use liquid hydrocarbons are called oil engines. However, gasoline engines are also often colloquially referred to as 'gas engines'.
The main limitations on fuels are that it must be easily transportable through the fuel system to the combustion chamber, and that the fuel release sufficient energy in the form of heat upon combustion to make use of the engine practical.
Diesel engines are generally heavier, noisier and more powerful at lower speeds than gasoline engines. They are also more fuel-efficient in most circumstances and are used in heavy road vehicles, some automobiles (increasingly so for their increased fuel efficiency over gasoline engines), ships, railway locomotives, and light aircraft. Gasoline engines are used in most other road vehicles including most cars, motorcycles and mopeds. Note that in Europe, sophisticated diesel-engined cars have taken over about 40% of the market since the 1990s. There are also engines that run on hydrogen, methanol, ethanol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and biodiesel. Paraffin and tractor vaporising oil (TVO) engines are no longer seen.
Since air is plentiful at the surface of the earth, the oxidiser is typically atmospheric oxygen, which has the advantage of not being stored within the vehicle, increasing the power-to-weight and power to volume ratios. There are other materials that are used for special purposes, often to increase power output or to allow operation under water or in space.
- Compressed air has been commonly used in torpedoes.
- Compressed oxygen, as well as some compressed air, was used in the Japanese Type 93 torpedo. Some submarines are designed to carry pure oxygen.
- Nitromethane is added to some racing and model fuels to increase power and control combustion.
- Nitrous oxide has been used, with extra gasoline, in tactical aircraft and in specially equipped cars, to allow short bursts of added power from engines that otherwise run on gasoline and air. (It is also used in the Burt Rutan rocket spacecraft).
- Hydrogen peroxide power was under development for German World War II submarines and may have been used in some non-nuclear submarines.
- Black or smokeless gunpowder has been used in diesel engine starters, to deploy or jettison equipment remotely, and by Alphonse Pénaud in pioneering model aircraft.
- Other chemicals such as chlorine or fluorine have been used experimentally, but have not been found to be practical.
 Hydrogen engine
Some have theorized that in the future hydrogen might replace such fuels. Furthermore, with the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell technology, the use of internal combustion engines may be phased out. The advantage of hydrogen is that its combustion produces only water. This is unlike the combustion of fossil fuels, which produce carbon dioxide, a known green house gas GHG, carbon monoxide resulting from incomplete combustion, and other local and atmospheric pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that lead to urban respiratory problems, acid rain, and ozone gas problems. However, free hydrogen for fuel does not occur naturally, oxidizing it liberates less energy than it takes to produce hydrogen in the first place due to the second law of thermodynamics.
Although there are multiple ways of producing free hydrogen, those require converting combustible molecules into hydrogen or consuming electric energy, so hydrogen does not solve any energy crisis, moreover, it only addresses the issue of portability and some pollution issues. The disadvantage of hydrogen in many situations is its storage. Liquid hydrogen has extremely low density- 14 times lower than water and requires extensive insulation, whilst gaseous hydrogen requires heavy tankage. Although hydrogen has a higher specific energy, the volumetric energetic storage is still roughly five times lower than petrol, even when liquified. (The 'Hydrogen on Demand' process, designed by Steven Amendola, creates hydrogen as it is needed, but has other issues, such as the high price of the sodium borohydride, the raw material. Sodium borohydride is renewable and could become cheaper if more widely produced.)
Internal combustion engines can contain any number of cylinders, with numbers between one and twelve being common, though as many as 36 (Lycoming R-7755) have been used. Having more cylinders in an engine yields two potential benefits: First, the engine can have a larger displacement with smaller individual reciprocating masses (that is, the mass of each piston can be less) thus making a smoother running engine (since the engine tends to vibrate as a result of the pistons moving up and down). Second, with a greater displacement and more pistons, more fuel can be combusted and there can be more combustion events (that is, more power strokes) in a given period of time, meaning that such an engine can generate more torque than a similar engine with fewer cylinders.
The down side to having more pistons is that the engine will tend to weigh more and tend to generate more internal friction as the greater number of pistons rub against the inside of their cylinders. This tends to decrease fuel efficiency and rob the engine of some of its power. For high performance gasoline engines using current materials and technology (such as the engines found in modern automobiles), there seems to be a break point around 10 or 12 cylinders, after which addition of cylinders becomes an overall detriment to performance and efficiency, although exceptions such as the W16 engine from Volkswagen exist.
- Most car engines have four to eight cylinders, with some high performance cars having ten, twelve, or even sixteen, and some very small cars and trucks having two or three. In previous years some quite large cars, such as the DKW and Saab 92, had two cylinder, two stroke engines.
- Radial aircraft engines, now obsolete, had from three to 28 cylinders. An example is the Pratt & Whitney R-4360. A row contains an odd number of cylinders, so an even number indicates a two- or four-row engine. The largest of these was the Lycoming R-7755 with 36 cylinders (four rows of nine cylinders), but it did not enter production.
- Motorcycles commonly have from one to four cylinders, with a few high performance models having six (though some 'novelties' exist with 8, 10 and 12).
- Snowmobiles usually have two cylinders. Some larger (not necessarily high-performance, but also touring machines) have four.
- Small portable appliances such as chainsaws, generators and domestic lawn mowers most commonly have one cylinder, although two-cylinder chainsaws exist.
 Ignition system
An internal combustion engine can be classified by its ignition system.
Today most engines use an electrical or compression heating system for ignition. However outside flame and hot-tube systems have been used historically. Nikola Tesla gained one of the first patents on the mechanical ignition system with U.S. Patent 609,250, "Electrical Igniter for Gas Engines", on 16 August 1898.
Ignition, after the engine is started, comes from oxidation heat and mechanical compression of the air or mixture. The vast majority of compression ignition engines are diesels, in which the fuel is mixed with the air after the air has reached ignition temperature. In this case the timing comes from the fuel injection system. Very small model engines, for which simplicity is more important than fuel cost, use special fuels to control ignition timing.
The point in the cycle at which the fuel/oxidiser mixture is ignited has a direct effect on the efficiency and output of the ICE. The thermodynamics of the idealized Carnot heat engine tells us that an ICE is most efficient if most of the burning takes place at a high temperature, resulting from compression, that is, near top "dead" center. The speed of the flame front is directly affected by compression ratio, fuel mixture temperature and octane or cetane rating of the fuel. Leaner mixtures and lower mixture pressures burn more slowly requiring more advanced ignition timing. It is important to have combustion spread by a thermal flame front (deflagration), not by a shock wave. Combustion propgation by a shock wave is called detonation and, in engines, is also known as pinging or knocking.
So, at least in gasoline burning engines, ignition timing is largely a compromise between an earlier "advanced" spark, which gives greater efficiency with high octane fuel and a later "retarded" spark which avoids detonation, with the fuel used. For this reason, high-performance diesel automobile proponents such as Gale Banks believe that
- There’s only so far you can go with an air-throttled engine on 91-octane gasoline. In other words, it is the fuel, gasoline, that has become the limiting factor. ... While turbocharging has been applied to both gasoline and diesel engines, only limited boost can be added to a gasoline engine before the fuel octane level again becomes a problem. With a diesel, boost pressure is essentially unlimited. It is literally possible to run as much boost as the engine will physically stand before breaking apart. Consequently, engine designers have come to realize that diesels are capable of substantially more power and torque than any comparably sized gasoline engine. 
 Fuel systems
Fuels burn faster, and more completely when they have lots of surface area in contact with oxygen. In order for an engine to work efficiently the fuel must be vaporized into the incoming air in what is commonly referred to as a fuel air mixture. There are two commonly used methods of vaporizing fuel into the air, one is the carburetor and the other is fuel injection.
Often for simpler reciprocating engines a carburetor is used to supply fuel into the cylinder. However, exact control of the correct amount of fuel supplied to the engine is impossible. Carburetors are the current most widespread fuel mixing device used in lawnmowers and other small engine applications. Prior to the mid-1980s carburetors were also common in automobiles.
Larger gasoline engines such as used in automobiles have mostly moved to fuel injection systems (see Gasoline Direct Injection). Diesel engines always use fuel injection, because it is the fuel system that controls the ignition timing.
Autogas (LPG) engines use either fuel injection systems or open or closed loop carburetors.
Other internal combustion engines like jet engines use burners, and rocket engines use various different ideas including impinging jets, gas/liquid shear, preburners and many other ideas.
 Engine configuration
Internal combustion engines can be classified by their configuration which affects their physical size and smoothness (with smoother engines producing less vibration). Common configurations include the straight or inline configuration, the more compact V configuration and the wider but smoother flat or boxer configuration. Aircraft engines can also adopt a radial configuration which allows more effective cooling. More unusual configurations, such as "H", "U", "X", or "W" have also been used.
Multiple-crankshaft configurations do not necessarily need a cylinder head at all, but can instead have a piston at each end of the cylinder, called an opposed piston design. This design was used in the Junkers Jumo 205 diesel aircraft engine, using two crankshafts, one at either end of a single bank of cylinders, and most remarkably in the Napier Deltic diesel engines, which used three crankshafts to serve three banks of double-ended cylinders arranged in an equilateral triangle with the crankshafts at the corners. It was also used in single-bank locomotive engines, and continues to be used for marine engines, both for propulsion and for auxiliary generators. The Gnome Rotary engine, used in several early aircraft, had a stationary crankshaft and a bank of radially arranged cylinders rotating around it.
 Engine capacity
An engine's capacity is the displacement or swept volume by the pistons of the engine. It is generally measured in litres (L) or cubic inches (c.i.d. or cu in or in³) for larger engines and cubic centimetres (abbreviated to cc) for smaller engines. Engines with greater capacities are usually more powerful and provide greater torque at lower rpm but also consume more fuel.
Apart from designing an engine with more cylinders, there are two ways to increase an engine's capacity. The first is to lengthen the stroke and the second is to increase the piston's diameter (See also: Stroke ratio). In either case, it may be necessary to make further adjustments to the fuel intake of the engine to ensure optimal performance.
An engine's quoted capacity can be more a matter of marketing than of engineering. The Morris Minor 1000, the Morris 1100, and the Austin-Healey Sprite Mark II were all fitted with a BMC A-Series engine of the same stroke and bore according to their specifications, and were from the same maker. However the engine capacities were quoted as 1000 cc, 1100 cc and 1098 cc respectively in the sales literature and on the vehicle badges.
 Lubrication Systems
Several different types of lubrication systems are used. Simple two-stroke engines are lubricated by oil mixed into the fuel or injected into the induction stream as a spray. Early slow speed stationary and marine engines were lubricated by gravity from small chambers, similar to those used on steam engines at the time, with an engine tender refilling these as needed. As engines were adapted for automotive and aircraft use, the need for a high power to weight ratio lead to increased speeds, higher temperatures, and greater pressure on bearings, which in turn required pressure lubrication for crank bearing and connecting-rod journals, provided either by a direct lubrication from a pump, or indirectly by a jet of oil directed at pickup cups on the connecting rod ends, which had the advantage of providing higher pressures as engine speed increased.
Engine on-board diagnostics are included in some cars (e.g. BMW).
- ^ Physics In an Automotive Engine
- ^ Improving IC Engine Efficiency
- ^ Williams, Tony (2006). 101 Ingenious Kiwis. Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, pp.83.
- ^ Diesel — The Performance Choice, Banks Talks Tech, 11.19.04
- Singer, Charles Joseph; Raper, Richard, A history of technology : The Internal Combustion Engine, edited by Charles Singer ... [et al.], Clarendon Press, 1954-1978. pp.157-176
- Hardenberg, Horst O., The Middle Ages of the Internal combustion Engine, Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), 1999
 See also
- William Barnett - an early patentee (1838)
- Electric vehicle
- Engine test stand - information about how to check an internal combustion engine
- Heat pump
- Hybrid vehicle
- External Combustion Engine
- Cox Models for simple and inexpensive working engines, suitable for demonstrations
|[hide] Thermodynamic cycles|
|Cycles normally with external combustion|
|Gas cycles without phasechange - hot air engine cycles|
|Bell Coleman cycle · Brayton/Joule cycle; (Externally heated) · Carnot cycle|
|Cycles with phasechange|
|Kalina cycle · Rankine cycle · Regenerative cycle · Two phased Stirling cycle |
|Cycles normally with internal combustion|
|Atkinson cycle · Brayton/Joule cycle · Diesel cycle · Otto cycle · Lenoir cycle · Miller cycle|
|Combined cycle · HEHC cycle  · Mixed/Dual Cycle|
|Claude cycle  · Fickett-Jacobs cycle · Gifford-McMahon cycle  · Hirn cycle|
 External links
- IC Engines - An exhaustive compilation of study materials on IC engine
- Animated Engines - explains a variety of types
- Intro To Car Engines - Cut-away images and a good overview of the internal combustion engine
- The Fuel and Engine Bible - A good resource for different engine types and fuels
- Self Improvement Wednesday - ABC 702 Drive audio
- The role of spray technology and combustion engines
- Firing on Half Cylinders - from V8 to V4
- Walter E. Lay Auto Lab - Research at The University of Michigan
- youtube - Animation of the components and built-up of a 4-cylinder engine
- youtube - Animation of the internal moving parts of a 4-cylinder engine
- Small engine repair Carburetor Adjustments
- A site dedicated to Barsanti & Matteucci engine
- Hypervideo showing construction and operation of a four cylinder internal combustion engine courtesy of Ford Motor Company
In other languages
- Bahasa Indonesia
- Norsk (bokmål)
- Srpskohrvatski / Српскохрватски
- Tiếng Việt