How does an Engine work: The operation of an internal combustion engine

How does an Engine work: The operation of an internal combustion engine

Bugatti Veyron engine, 16 cylinders, 1001 horsepower


What does the engine do? Simply put, it powers the vehicle and handles the work needed to keep things going. The engine to the car is as the heart to the body.

How does an engine produce the required power? Power is produced through the creation of heat, and heat is a by product of the combustion process. The combustion process consists of four cycles, intake/compression/power and exhaust.

~The intake cycle brings air into the engine and down into each required cylinder.

~The compression cycle pushes the air and compresses it to the top of the cylinder using a piston, upon which fuel is sprayed into the cylinder and ignited with a spark(unless it is a diesel engine).

~The power cycle uses the explosion of fuel and air and pushes the piston back down into the cylinder.

~The exhaust stroke happens as the piston returns for the second time, pushing the burnt air out of each cylinder through the exhaust valves.


The engine produces this raw power, which is then transferred to the transmission and properly distributed to each wheel as needed.

The process can sound confusing, but it is actually very simple once you begin to remember the order of things and can create a visual of it.

Although most engines still require fuel in order to run, there are other alternatives out there. More manufacturers now offer hybrid options, and there is a lot of money being invested into more emission friendly engine options, and when gas powered engines are no longer the majority demand, it will only be a matter of time before there are major shifts of power in the automotive industry.

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