An internal combustion engine (ICE) is any engine that operates by burning its fuel inside the engine. In contrast, a steam engine is an external combustion engine as it burns its fuel outside the engine. The most common internal combustion engine type is gasoline powered. Others include those fueled by diesel, hydrogen, methane, propane, etc. Engines typically can only run on one type of fuel and require adaptations to adjust the air/fuel ratio or mix to use other fuels. 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. A large number of different designs for ICEs have been developed and built, with a variety of different strengths and weaknesses. 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, from the smallest to the largest.
What is the History of ICEs?
In 13th century, the rocket engine, an internal-combustion engine, was developed by the Chinese, Mongols and Arabs. In 1509, Leonardo da Vinci described a compression less engine. Although various forms of internal combustion engines were developed before the 19th century, application was slowed down until the commercial drilling and production of petroleum began in the mid-1850s. By the late 19th century, engineering advances led to widespread adoption in a variety of applications.In 1954, Felix Wankel, a German mechanical engineer invented the Wankel engine. The first person to actually build a car with the four-stroke engine was German engineer, Nikolaus Otto. That is why the four-stroke principle today is commonly known as the Otto cycle and four-stroke engines using spark plugs often are called Otto engines.
What is the Principle of ICE?
In a gasoline engine, a mixture of gasoline and air is sprayed into a cylinder. This is compressed by a piston and at optimal point in the compression stroke; a spark plug creates an electrical spark that ignites the fuel. The combustion of the fuel results in the generation of heat, and the hot gases that are in the cylinder are then at a higher pressure than the fuel-air mixture and so drive the piston back down. These combustion gases are vented and the fuel-air mixture reintroduced to run a second stroke. The outward linear motion of the piston is ordinarily harnessed by a crankshaft to produce circular motion. Valves control the intake of air-fuel mixture and allow exhaust gasses to exit at the appropriate times.
What are the different types of ICEs?
Four-Stroke: The four-stroke internal combustion engine is the type most commonly used for automotive and industrial purposes today (cars and trucks, generators, etc). The steps involved in the operation are:
I. INTAKE stroke: On the intake or induction stroke of the piston, the piston descends from the top of the cylinder to the bottom of the cylinder, reducing the pressure inside the cylinder. A mixture of fuel and air is forced by atmospheric (or greater) pressure into the cylinder through the intake port. The intake valve(s) then close.
II. COMPRESSION stroke: With both intake and exhaust valves closed, the piston returns to the top of the cylinder compressing the fuel-air mixture. This is known as the compression stroke.
III. POWER stroke: While the piston is close to Top Dead Center, the compressed air–fuel mixture is ignited, usually by a spark plug (for a gasoline or Otto cycle engine) or by the heat and pressure of compression (for a diesel cycle or compression ignition engine). A spark plug is an electrical device that fits into the cylinder head of some internal combustion engines and ignites compressed fuels such as aerosol, gasoline, ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas by means of an electric spark. The resulting massive pressure from the combustion of the compressed fuel-air mixture drives the piston back down toward bottom dead center with tremendous force. This is known as the power stroke, which is the main source of the engine's torque (tendency of a force to rotate an object about an axis) and power.
IV. EXHAUST stroke: During the exhaust stroke, the piston once again returns to top dead center while the exhaust valve is open. This action evacuates the products of combustion from the cylinder by pushing the spent fuel-air mixture through the exhaust valve(s).
Two-Stroke: The two-stroke type of internal combustion engine is typically used in utility or recreational applications which require relatively small, inexpensive, and mechanically simple motors (chainsaws, jetskis, small motorcycles, etc). A two-stroke engine is an internal combustion engine that completes the process cycle in one revolution of the crankshaft (an up stroke and a down stroke of the piston, compared to twice that number for a four-stroke engine). This is accomplished by using the beginning of the compression stroke and the end of the combustion stroke to perform simultaneously the intake and exhaust (or scavenging) functions. In this way, two-stroke engines often provide strikingly high specific power, at least in a narrow range of rotational speeds. The functions of some or all of the valves required by a four-stroke engine are usually served in a two-stroke engine by ports that are opened and closed by the motion of the pistons, greatly reducing the number of moving parts.
Wankel: The Wankel engine (rotary engine) does not have piston strokes. It operates with the same separation of phases as the four-stroke engine with the phases taking place in separate locations in the engine.
Wave disk engine: It is an internal combustion engine which does away with pistons, crankshafts and valves, and replaces them with a disc-shaped shock wave generator. Compression is achieved through the generation of shock waves in a spinning air fuel mixture.
Gas turbine: It is a rotary machine similar in principle to a steam turbine and it consists of three main components: a compressor, a combustion chamber, and a turbine. The air after being compressed in the compressor is heated by burning fuel in it.
Jet engines: This take a large volume of hot gas from a combustion process and feed it through a nozzle which accelerates the jet to high speed. As the jet accelerates through the nozzle, this creates thrust and in turn does useful work.
What does the ICE depend on?
All internal combustion engines depend on the exothermic chemical process of combustion: the reaction of a fuel, typically with oxygen from the air (though it is possible to inject nitrous oxide in order to do more of the same thing and gain a power boost). The combustion process typically results in the production of a great quantity of heat, as well as the production of steam and carbon dioxide and other chemicals at very high temperature. The most common modern fuels are made up of hydrocarbons and are derived mostly from fossil fuels (petroleum). Fossil fuels include diesel fuel, gasoline and petroleum gas, and the rarer use of propane. Except for the fuel delivery components, most internal combustion engines that are designed for gasoline use can run on natural gas or liquefied petroleum gases without major modifications.
What are the Problems with ICEs?
Air pollution: Internal combustion engines produce air pollution emissions, due to incomplete combustion of carbonaceous fuel. The main derivatives of the process are carbon dioxide CO2, water and some soot, impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon. The effects of inhaling this soot have been studied in humans and animals and include asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, and premature death.
Noise pollution: Significant contributions to noise pollution are made by internal combustion engines. Automobile and truck traffic operating on highways and street systems produce noise, as do aircraft flights due to jet noise, particularly supersonic-capable aircraft. Rocket engines create the most intense noise.
One of the problems with internal combustion engines is that it generates high temperature, high pressure exhaust fumes which must be vented away from the engine. These fumes commonly contain pollutants generated by the burning of the fuel in the cylinder.