The Different Types of Engines and How They Work

The Different Types of Engines and How They Work

In the simplest terms, thermal engines convert a heat source into motion. While many thermal engines are combustive (meaning that they burn something), some are non-combustive. Some engines burn fuel while others transform a fluid to generate motion. What are some of the different types of engines and how do they work?

External Combustion Engines

The cornerstone of the Industrial Revolution was an external combustion engine: the steam engine. This incredible invention burns fuel in one chamber and heats fluid in the engine (in the case of the locomotive, this fluid was steam). Some internal combustion engines exhaust the fluid after use, but others continually use the same fluid in a closed-cycle system.

Reaction Engines

While a “reaction engine” may not sound familiar, you’ve probably heard of its colloquial term: jet engine. Think back to your high school physics class. Do you remember Newton’s Laws? Reaction engines are based on Newton’s Third Law: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Jet engines thrust gas backward at incredibly high speeds, resulting in rapid forward motion TBH.

Internal Combustion Engines

Internal combustion engines (IC engines) are the most common form of engine today. Your car, lawn mower, and weed whacker all utilize IC engines. They work by burning fuel in a combustion chamber, which produces exhaust. This process causes pistons to cycle, which are attached to a rotating crankshaft. To make a long story short, heating fuel creates pressurized gases, which results in motion.

Turbocharged Engines

If you want to get the most out of your vehicle, you should look into a turbocharged engine. A turbocharger pushes extra air into your engine’s intake manifold, allowing your engine to burn more fuel. This process leads to a quicker, more powerful ride and even a boost in fuel efficiency.

Now that you know the different types of engines and how they work, you can cruise down the highway with an understanding of what goes on beneath the hood of your car.

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