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INTERNAL-COMBUSTION ENGINE When a fuel is burned in air the resulting hot gas tries to expand generating a force that can be used to move a piston in a cylinder as in the automobile engine or to drive the blades of a turbine In either case because the combustion takes place within it the engine is called an internal-combustion engine Modern transportation relies heavily upon internal-combustion engines All airplanes and most automobiles ships and railroad locomotives are powered by them They also power lawn mowers chain saws air compressors and other power tools The two most common internal-combustion engines are the gasoline and the diesel engines The first is used in most automobiles The diesel engine burns a heavier fuel and finds its primary application in larger vehicles such as ships locomotives heavy trucks and buses though it is also used in some automobiles Almost any liquid or gaseous fuel however can be used in an internal-combustion engine including gasoline-alcohol mixtures called gasohol alcohol methane gas and compressed coal gas History The German engineer Nikolaus A Otto developed the modern four-stroke cycle engine in 1876 which--coupled with the invention in 1885 of the carburetor by another German Gottlieb Daimler--ushered in the automobile age Seeking improved engine efficiencies the German engineer Rudolf CK Diesel developed in 1892 the engine that bears his name See also Automobile Diesel Engine Characteristics of Piston Engines Both Otto-cycle and diesel engines use many of the same components The combustion chamber consists of a cylinder in which a closely fitted piston slides The space between the sides of the cylinder and the edges of the piston is sealed with piston rings and friction is reduced by introducing lubricating oil along the cylinder wall The up-and-down motion of the piston varies the volume of the chamber from a maximum at bottom dead center
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