Chances are you’ve heard of different engine types, from advanced versions that run on good ol’ gas to electric motors that provide better-than-you-can-believe efficiency.
To learn more about today’s advancements in engine technology, check out ATC’s guide to three different engine types and their advantages below.
Engine Type #1: Gas Engines
The traditional engine type that still lives under the hood of countless vehicles on the road today is the internal combustion gasoline engine. An X-ray view into a gas engine would show multiple cylinders (often four, six, or eight) at work where tiny, controlled explosions take place, compressing and igniting fuel and sending this power to the wheels.
Gas engines are built in a number of layouts, including inline, V-type, boxer, and rotary, that can provide improved handling, efficiency, and performance. Inline engines, in which cylinders are positioned in a straight line on a single crankshaft, are lightweight and have the potential to be fairly fuel efficient (but they can’t rival hybrids or electrics in this category).
Engine Type #2: Hybrid and Electric Engines
Hybrid engines involve multiple components in their power sets, usually an internal combustion engine, an electric motor/generator, and a battery.
At reduced speeds, a hybrid engine’s electric motor pulls power solely from the battery. At moderate speeds, the gas engine provides power to the car and the generator, which makes electricity to replenish the battery. The energy that’s produced when the accelerator isn’t being pressed is also captured by the generator. Using energy that already exists at the wheels and alternating between two power sources allows hybrid cars to provide optimal efficiency and significantly reduced emissions.
Electric vehicles lack a gas engine and a tailpipe. They exclusively rely on electricity from a battery to turn an axle and create motion at the car’s wheels. No need to fuel up, but rather to charge up, the advantages of electric engines include zero emissions and diminished fuel costs.
As battery technology and energy life continues to evolve and extend, hybrid and electric vehicles are expected to become even more mainstream.
Engine Type #3: Diesel Engines
Diesel engines operate similarly to gas engines but undergo a different ignition cycle. Instead of using sparkplugs to ignite the air-fuel blend prior to entering the combustion chamber like gas engines do, diesel engines rely solely on compression to burn the mixture. Diesel engines are built tougher to withstand the extreme pressure that takes place during combustion.
This heartier design puts the life expectancy of diesel engines far past that of traditional gas motors. Diesel engines are also more fuel efficient; as a fuel source, diesel naturally contains more energy than gasoline. Higher torque production give diesel engines serious power applications and brisk acceleration, which is why you’ll often see them in larger vehicles that require pulling or towing heavy loads.
Students enrolled in courses with ATC’s Automotive and Marine programs get familiar with the complex components that power today’s engines. If you find different engine types and their inner workings fascinating, a career in the automotive or marine industries may interest you.
Check out our eBooks and resources for more engine knowledge fuel!