Blog What is an Internal Combustion Engine?

What is an Internal Combustion Engine?


An internal combustion engine is a heat engine that generates motive power by burning a fuel-air mixture within the engine, and the resulting hot gases drive a piston or do other work as they expand. Due to their incredible durability and drivability, an outstanding 250 million highway transportation vehicles in the United States are equipped with an internal combustion engine. 


It is no surprise that internal combustion engines have garnered popularity as they are designed to support gasoline, diesel, natural gas, biodiesel, ethanol, as well as renewable fuels, making these engines a go-to choice over the last few decades. In an internal combustion engine, the ignition and combustion of fuel occurs within the engine itself, hence the name of this type of engine. The engine converts the energy from combustion into work. The expanding gases push the piston, resulting in the rotational movement of the crankshaft. This in turn drives a system of gears within the powertrain which begins to turn the vehicle’s wheels. This series of mechanisms can be defined as the transformation of thermal energy into mechanical energy through the burning of the fuel-air mixture.


There are two types of internal combustion engines currently being produced, the first being the spark ignition gasoline engine and the second being the compression ignition diesel engine. These engines work on a 4-stroke combustion cycle, meaning four piston strokes are required to complete a combustion cycle. The cycle consists of four distinct processes: intake, compression, combustion and power stroke, and exhaust.


Spark ignition gasoline and compression ignition diesel engines differentiate themselves in the way they supply and ignite the fuel. In a spark ignition engine, the fuel-air mixture moves into a cylinder during the intake process. Once the piston compresses the fuel-air mixture, the spark ignites it, causing combustion. As the combustion gases expand, the piston is pushed during the power stroke. In a diesel engine, on the other hand, only air is pushed into the engine and then compressed. The fuel is sprayed into the hot compressed air at a specifically measured rate, causing the engine to ignite.


When it comes to both types of engines, its various components such as its crankshaft, valves, pistons, camshaft, and other parts need to be routinely checked to ensure they are working properly. As such, sourcing from a trusted distributor that provides top-quality parts should be a priority.


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January 7, 2021

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