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An internal combustion engine (ICE)

is a heat engine where the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer (usually air)
in a combustion chamber that is an integral part of the working fluid flow circuit. In an
internal combustion engine the expansion of the high-temperature and high-
pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of
the engine. The force is applied typically to pistons, turbine blades, rotor or a nozzle.
This force moves the component over a distance, transforming chemical energy into
useful mechanical energy. The first commercially successful internal combustion
engine was created by Étienne Lenoir around 1859[1] and the first modern internal
combustion engine was created in 1864 by Siegfried Marcus.

Internal combustion means just what it says: that fuel is burned inside the engine. In
a car engine, gasoline is burned inside the engine, which ignites the fuel and
releases energy that moves the car. There are also other methods of internal
combustion, such as diesel engines and gas turbine engines. Internal combustion is
an efficient system that requires a relatively small engine to create motion. It is also
more fuel efficient than external combustion engines, such as an old-fashioned
steam engine.

Gasoline engines used to be as inefficient as steam engines. In 1876 the gasoline

engine was invented and it was no more efficient than the steam engine, which used
external combustion. A lot of fuel was wasted. In 1878, Rudolph Diesel decided to
develop an engine with higher efficiency, and in 1892 the diesel engine was born. It
was more efficient as an internal combustion engine, but it took many more years to
develop a diesel engine that was cleaner and quieter. Early diesel engines spewed
out sooty smoke and at first were only used in trucks. Today, new advancements in
this method of internal combustion have improved the diesel engine. The difference
between gas and diesel engines is the way fuel is converted to 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,
along with variants, such as the six-stroke piston engine and the Wankel rotary
engine. 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.[1][2] Firearms are also a form of internal combustion engine.[2]

Internal combustion engines are 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
a boiler. ICEs are usually powered by energy-dense fuels such as gasoline or diesel,
liquids derived from fossil fuels. While there are many stationary applications, most
ICEs are used in mobile applications and are the dominant power supply
for vehicles such as cars, aircraft, and boats.

Typically an ICE is fed with fossil fuels like natural gas or petroleum products such
as gasoline, diesel fuel or fuel oil. There's a growing usage of renewable
fuels like biodiesel for compression ignition engines and bioethanol or methanol for
spark ignition engines. Hydrogen is sometimes used, and can be made from either
fossil fuels or renewable energy.


Combustion, also known as burning, is the basic chemical process of releasing

energy from a fuel and air mixture. In an internal combustion engine (ICE), the
ignition and combustion of the fuel occurs within the engine itself. The engine then
partially converts the energy from the combustion to work. The engine consists of a
fixed cylinder and a moving piston. The expanding combustion gases push the
piston, which in turn rotates the crankshaft. Ultimately, through a system of gears in
the powertrain, this motion drives the vehicle’s wheels.

There are two kinds of internal combustion engines currently in production: the spark
ignition gasoline engine and the compression ignition diesel engine. Most of these
are four-stroke cycle engines, meaning four piston strokes are needed to complete a
cycle. The cycle includes four distinct processes: intake, compression, combustion
and power stroke, and exhaust.

Spark ignition gasoline and compression ignition diesel engines differ in how they
supply and ignite the fuel. In a spark ignition engine, the fuel is mixed with air and
then inducted into the cylinder during the intake process. After the piston
compresses the fuel-air mixture, the spark ignites it, causing combustion. The
expansion of the combustion gases pushes the piston during the power stroke. In a
diesel engine, only air is inducted into the engine and then compressed. Diesel
engines then spray the fuel into the hot compressed air at a suitable, measured rate,
causing it to ignite.

Types of Internal Combustion Engine

There are two main types of IC engines: spark ignition (SI) engines (petrol or
gasoline engine) and compression ignition (CI) or diesel engine. Both these engines
are further classified as 2-stroke and 4-stroke engine.

Internal Combustion Engines, more popularly known as IC engines, are the ones in
which the combustion of fuel takes place inside the engine block itself. After
combustion of fuel, much heat energy is generated, this is converted into mechanical

There are two types of IC engines: rotary and reciprocating engines. In rotary
engines, a rotor rotates inside the engine to produce power. In the case of the
reciprocating engines, a piston reciprocates within a cylinder. The reciprocating
motion of the piston is converted into the rotary motion of the vehicle's wheels. In
automobiles, reciprocating engines are used. They are the most widely used type of

Reciprocating engines are classified into two types: spark ignition (SI) engines and
compression ignition (CI) engines. Since reciprocating engines are the most widely
used engines, they have become synonymous with the name IC engines. It is this
reason that even the IC engines are broadly classified into two types: SI engines and
CI engines. In SI engines the burning of fuel occurs by a spark generated by the
spark plug located in the cylinder head of engine. Due to this fact they are called
spark ignition engines. In these engines the fuel used is petrol or gasoline, hence SI
engines are also known as Petrol or Gasoline Engines.
In the case of CI engines, burning of the fuel occurs because of the high pressure
exerted on the fuel. The fuel iscompressed to high pressures and it starts burning,
hence these engines are called compression ignition engines. In CI engines the fuel
used is diesel; hence they are also called Diesel engines.
The SI and CI engines are either two stroke or four stroke engines.

In the case of the two stroke engine, for every two strokes of the piston inside the
cylinder the fuel is burnt. This means for every single rotation of the wheel the fuel is
burnt. In the case of four-stroke engines, the fuel is burnt for every four strokes of the
piston inside the cylinder. That means each time the fuel is burnt there are two
rotations of the wheels of the vehicle. The stroke is the distancetraveled by the
piston inside the cylinder; it is usually equal to the length of the cylinder.

Since the 4-stroke engines produce two rotations while 2-stroke engine produces
single rotation each time the fuel is burnt, the efficiency of 4-stroke engines is greater
than in 2-stroke engines. Ideally the efficiency of 4-stroke engine should be double of
2-stroke engine, but in actuality it is never so.