An Overview - EngineKnowHow

The internal combustion engine is a form of heat engine, a device which converts heat energy into mechanical energy where the heat is provided by the burning or oxidation of a fuel within the engine.  At its basics though an internal combustion engine is as an air pump, it fills the cylinders with fresh air then removes the cylinder contents following combustion.

Common examples which use internal combustion engine include:

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Motorbikes
  • Ships
  • Outboards
  • Generators
  • Lawn Mowers


The most common forms of internal combustion engines available today are:


These two forms of internal combustion engines are most commonly seen in reciprocating internal combustion engines where the mechanical power is generated by the expansion of the fuel / air mixture against a piston in a cylinder which transmits power to a crankshaft via a connecting rod. Reciprocating internal combustion engines predominantly operate on two engine cycles:


Another type of reciprocating internal combustion engine is the Wankel Engine, a form of Rotary Internal Combustion Engine which also operates on the 4 stroke engine cycle.


Future Development Targets

Despite being one of the most developed pieces of technology over the past 100 years, customer expectations, environmental conditions and the development of contributing technologies result in the following points as the major tasks for their ongoing development:

  • Improved fuel consumption, particularly at part load
  • Reduced emissions, namely NOx, CO, HC, CO2 and soot
  • Fuel flexibility
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved reliability
  • Increased performance