Understanding Engines and Its Parts
And, in order to quell your curiosity, I’ll be running this series on the intricacies of the engine and how this machine is able to produce diverse kinds of results in diverse machines. This series will tell you all you need to know about engines.
WHAT’S AN ENGINE?
We get the word, Engine, from the Latin, Ingenium, which is the root word for Ingenious. When you think of how the engine works, you might have a few questions as to the reason for the name. An engine is a device that converts another form of energy into mechanical energy. In a car, it converts the chemical energy of fuel into heat energy. This heat energy leverages pressure to rise to cause the motion of the car wheels. If this is still hard to comprehend, don’t be worried. I’ll be explaining it better as we advance in this series. However, just bear in mind that the engine is the mechanism that transforms energy into work.
HOW DO ENGINES WORK?
In the past, ‘engines’ like the wine press required human energy to produce work. People’s feet produced the crushing power it took to crush the grape. Simple machines were everywhere as they allowed man to harvest more output while using less energy. Then we advanced to animal-powered engines, using cows to plow farms or drive carts.
Advancements in human reasoning allowed us to turn to the forces of nature for kinetic energy. We began to develop wind and water-powered mills that used the kinetic energy from these flowing fluids to create work by crushing grains.
After a while, we advanced to steam engines that used the heat from combustion to heat water. The kinetic energy from the steam produced was then used to drive the machine. Steam engines were one of the first heat engines.
Currently, Internal Combustion Engines are in vogue. They are used in almost every car model these days. There are external combustion engines which include gas turbines. All of these are still heat engines, though of different forms.
PARTS OF AN ENGINE
In this series, we will be considering the heat engine and its systems like the human body and its systems. We’ll be discussing:
- Pump Systems: Contrary to popular belief, the heart is not the engine of the body. It actually serves as the pump for the mitochondria in the cells which produce all the energy our body needs. In the same way, there is a need to pump fuel to the engine which, in turn, produces energy. As we go through this part, we’ll be learning the process necessary for fuel to be pumped into the engine from the external tank.
- Air Systems: Just as the body needs oxygen to aerate the cells, most heat engines also require oxygen in order to function properly. Oxygen is a major requirement for combustion. This combustion is what produces the force that is converted to mechanical work. When there is a lack of oxygen, the body suffocates. We can say the same about an engine. This part will help us understand how the air goes into the engine and the function it performs.
- Boundary Systems: The cell membrane is stiff enough to maintain the cell shape and protect the cell from invasion. At the same time, it is permeable enough to allow oxygenated blood into the cell. This oxygenated blood is acted upon by the mitochondrion to produce energy. The heat engine is quite similar also. Its boundaries must be strong enough to withstand high temperatures and pressures while having sufficient openings to let in air and fuel. In this part, we’ll be discussing the functions each part of the boundary performs for the proper working of the engine.
- The Mitochondrion: Commonly known as the powerhouse of the cell, it is capable of producing more than enough energy to support the body per day. We can say the same about the engine. Sometimes, it produces so much power that it takes gears to reduce the amount of power generated from the engine before transferring to the receiving end. Here, we will be talking about the power generation process of the engine and how this power is converted to work whether by moving a car or grinding corn.
There’s so much to learn about your car. Stick with me and you’ll be excited about what you’ll learn. In the meantime, keep driving your car and wondering what causes the rumbling you hear from beneath your bonnet. Until next time on this blog!
Dilosi Allgain is a Nigerian Science and tech expert. A graduate of mechanical Engineering (power and machines).
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