C H A P T E R 6
Perhaps the best-known engine in the world is the reciprocating internal combustion (IC) engine. Virtually every person who has driven an automobile or pushed a power lawnmower has used one. By far the most widely used IC engine is the spark-ignition gasoline engine, which takes us to school and work and on pleasure jaunts. Although others had made significant contributions, Niklaus Otto is generally credited with the invention of the engine and with the statement of its theoretical cycle. Another important engine is the reciprocating engine that made the name of Rudolf Diesel famous. The Diesel engine, the workhorse of the heavy truck industry, is widely used in industrial power and marine applications. It replaced the reciprocating steam engine in railroad locomotives about fifty years ago and remains dominant in that role today.
The piston, cylinder, crank, and connecting rod provide the geometric basis of the reciprocating engine. While two-stroke-cycle engines are in use and of continuing interest, the discussion here will emphasize the more widely applied four-stroke-cycle engine. In this engine the piston undergoes two mechanical cycles for each thermodynamic cycle. The intake and compression processes occur in the first two strokes, and the power and exhaust processes in the last two. These processes are made possible by the crank-slider mechanism, discussed next.
6.2 The Crank-Slider Mechanism
Common to most reciprocating engines is a linkage known as a crank-slider mechanism. Diagramed in Figure 6.1, this mechanism is one of several capable of producing the straight-line, backward-and-forward motion known as reciprocating. Fundamentally, the crank-slider converts rotational motion into linear motion, or vice-versa. With a piston as the slider moving inside a fixed cylinder, the mechanism provides the vital capability of a gas engine: the ability to compress and...