Cars are a staple in society. They help us get to work, pick up the kids from school, and go on vacation. But how do they work? Most people don’t know, and that’s perfectly fine.
In this blog post, we’ll look at the most common engine found in cars today: the internal combustion engine. Let’s take a look at what internal combustion engines are and how it works.
How an Internal Combustion Engine Works
An internal combustion engine (ICE) is a heat engine where combustion—the process of burning fuel—occurs in the engine. This process is in contrast to an external combustion engine (ECE), such as a steam locomotive, where the heat for combustion comes from an external source.
ICEs typically use fossil fuels such as gasoline or diesel but can also be powered by other substances such as alcohol or peanut oil!
ICEs convert chemical energy from the fuel into mechanical energy, which powers the car’s wheels. We can summarize the process with the following steps:
- Fuel is mixed with air and drawn into the cylinders by the pistons.
- The spark plug ignites the mixture and causes combustion.
- The expanding gases push against the piston, causing it to move.
- The crankshaft translates the motion of the pistons into rotational force.
- The rotational force powers the car’s wheels through the transmission.
- The exhaust gases go through the exhaust system.
The Beauty of ICEs
ICEs are relatively simple machines that have been around for over 100 years. However, they are still considered one of humanity’s greatest inventions.
Their simplicity means that they are relatively easy and cheap to mass-produce, which has helped lead to their widespread use in transportation. ICEs are also very versatile; they can power anything from lawnmowers to jet planes!
Internal combustion engines are fascinating machines that have helped shape our world today. Compared to turbine and piston aircraft engines, they are smaller, lighter, and more fuel-efficient. These benefits make them ideal for use in automobiles.
The next time you get in your car, take a moment to think about the complex process that’s taking place under the hood. You’ll be impressed by how these humble machines have shaped our world.