Engine Facts



  • Engines are devices that convert fuel into movement.
  • Most engines work by burning the fuel to make gases that expand rapidly as they get hot.
  • Engines that burn fuel to generate power are called heat engines. The burning is called combustion.
  • An internal combustion engine, as used in a car, a jet or a rocket, burns its fuel on the inside.
  • In engines such as those in cars and diesel trains, the hot gases swell inside a chamber (the combustion chamber) and push against a piston or turbine.
  • An external combustion engine burns its fuel on the outside in a separate boiler that makes hot steam to drive a piston or turbine. Steam engines on trains and boats work in this way.
  • The Thrust car used a rocket motor to give it the acceleration it needed further its attempt on the world land speed record.
  • Engines with pistons that go back and forth inside cylinders are called reciprocating engines.
  • In jets and rockets, hot gases swell and push against the engine as they shoot out of the back.
  • In four-stroke engines, such as those in most cars, the pistons go up and down four times for each time they are thrust down by the hot gases.
  • In two-stroke engines, such as those on small motorcycles, lawnmowers and chainsaws, the piston is pushed by burning gases every time it goes down.
  • A jet engine burns fuel with air drawn in from the atmosphere in order to generate gases: it discharges these from the rear to power the craft along. 155 Hot gases leave the rear of the craft.