Combustion chamber
Otto cilco thermal engine

What is an endothermic engine? Efficiency and description

What is an endothermic engine? Efficiency and description

The endothermic engine, also known as an internal combustion engine. The main characteristic of this type of reciprocating engine is that by means of the laws of thermodynamics it is able to take advantage of the energy contained in the fuel to obtain mechanical work.

The endothermic engine is a type of reciprocating engine for the way of converting chemical energy into mechanical energy. The most popular endothermic engines are the Otto engine or gasoline engine that works according to the Otto cycle and the diesel engine, which works according to the diesel cycle.

Endothermic engine meaning

The meaning in the strict sense of endothermic could be explained by "internal combustion", a definition that refers directly to its operating principle. Basically, in this type of heat engine we are transmitting two important elements that are air and fuel (in In particular, gasoline for the Otto engine, diesel for the diesel engine, LPG or alternative sources).

How does an endothermic engine work?

To better understand the operation in the strict sense, a brief mechanical analysis is necessary.

A car engine consists of several parts connected to each other, all of them involved in the generation of the rotation that, consequently, will allow the movement of the vehicle. We start from the top, where the first item to examine is the camshaft. The camshaft is a shaped metal shaft to which the arms that move alternately and called connecting rods are connected.

The pistons are connected to the connecting rods by means of small hammer elements that perform their function inside the cylinders, where the combustion in question finally takes place. The fundamental principle of the endothermic engine is the air that is transported inside the cylinders. This operation causes the air to increase in pressure and temperature.

The fuel, once in contact with the air at high temperature, will burn, generating the movement of the pistons. The movement of the pistons will move the camshaft which, in essence, will start the engine.

What are the types of endothermic engines?

The fuels are different from each other, for the simplicity of the expositions we will limit ourselves to making the difference between two types:

  • Spontaneous combustion fuels: it is diesel, mainly for the diesel engine, which does not require any intervention to start combustion.
  • Induced combustion fuel: in this case the gas (or LPG) engine, which on the contrary needs some source that causes the start of combustion.

So in general, you could say that an Otto engine uses the spark plug system (which generates a spark) to be able to start and perform its function. Diesel engines, on the other hand, do not need this system, they burn the fuel without any intervention.

Combustion is a fundamental phenomenon for the operation of the endothermic engine. The first experimental tests of these heat engines can be found at the end of 1800, precursors of what was finally the car appeared, throughout its trajectory until today. Another important element related to the operation of the internal combustion engine is the exhaust system. Dirty and used air must be transported to the outside through ducts that allow it to flow freely.

Over time it has been observed how combustion gases are very harmful to the health of the air and the progress of urbanization has meant that this problem has become very serious. In fact, today there is a kind of trend reversal in the search for those that are alternative solutions to traditional fuels, considered harmful to both the environment and human health. An alternative to endothermic engines are electric motors. Electric motors and hybrid motors are becoming very popular in motorsports.

What is the efficiency of the endothermic engine?

There are several factors that determine that an endothermic engine is efficient and has optimal performance. The factors to be analyzed are different. First of all, the cubing phenomenon, endothermic engine that have higher displacements tend to do more and provide superior performance compared to engines that have low hubs. But over time it has been understood that it is not only this factor that generates performance but also the actual development of power that the engine has.

The concept of power (HP or CV) is directly proportional to the amount of energy that the engine can generate. And here different factors come into play, almost all due to that kind of mystery because of how profane engine power is. Numerous experiments over time have led to various conclusions about factors related to nutrition, to the point that, in recent years, supercharged cars are presented as the highest performing. But overfeeding also means increasing consumption in many cases.

A trend reversal in this sense is given by the HiperCar phenomenon, cars that exploit the power of the air at the highest levels to achieve powers unthinkable until a few years ago. On the other hand, they are often prototypical cars that clearly have very high costs.

Are there endothermic engines that do not harm the environment?

Until a few decades ago the problem of air health was not considered so much, over time we have realized that traditional fossil fuels, seen as a panacea for more than 100 years, have considerable disadvantages from an ecological point of view since contributes to the increase of the greenhouse effect.

Here, the high degree of negativity of its possible depletion, due to the fact that fossil energy is a type of non-renewable energy, is flanked by another negative side of considerable weight: fuels derived from petroleum pollute the air and cause numerous diseases for the humans.

What is the way forward in the face of this daunting version of events?

Look for alternative furnaces that can power car engines without negative consequences, or at least try to limit them to a minimum initially. To date, on the market there are several car models with various facets in this regard:

  • Hybrid engine models. Hybrid engine models mainly use electric motors in cities and limit the use of traditional fuel (gasoline or diesel) to trips outside the city walls
  • Electric motors. Electric motors, in practice, are zero emissions and use the energy provided by huge rechargeable batteries. Another topic to study is the origin of the electrical energy that is used to recharge the batteries. Part of it comes from renewable energy sources such as solar energy or wind energy, but part of it comes from non-renewable energy sources such as coal-fired power plants or nuclear power plants.
  • Hydrogen-powered engines. The hydrogen engine is much less polluting and has performances similar to those of traditional fuels. Hydrogen engine research appears to have been sidelined in favor of other solutions.
  • Experimental versions of air motors, which in practice do not use any fuel to generate their movement and have practically zero emission.
Publication Date: May 2, 2018
Last Revision: May 2, 2018