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Internal Combustion

Jeffrey Syken

The first source of power in America was the water-wheel which harnessed the power of running water to run mills and factories. Then - in the 19th Century, came the Age of Steam with its heavy use of coal (whose by-product is coal-gas). Steam power served industry and transportation well, but a steam engine is inefficient operating at about 6% efficiency. So it was that a better, more efficient engine was sought and in 1860 the first coal-gas fired internal combustion engine appeared with greater efficiency than the steam engine. For Rudolph Diesel, the internal combustion engine held greater potential. The “Fire Piston” was his model for what he termed Compression Ignition – the basis of the Diesel engine. By 1897, the Diesel engine was perfected and in the early 20th Century it found wide use as a power source in marine engines, power plants, trucks, buses, farm machinery etc. What was a former waste product of crude oil – gasoline, would find its place as the power source of the modern automobile. Mixed in the proper proportion with oxygen, gasoline is even more powerful than gunpowder. That power was harnessed and put to use in the lighter, more compact gasoline engine.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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