Reciprocating piston engines are by far the most common power source for land and water vehicles, including automobiles, motorcycles, ships and to a lesser extent, locomotives (some are electrical but most use Diesel engines45). Rotary engines of the Wankel design are used in some automobiles, aircraft and motorcycles.
Where very high power-to-weight ratios are required, internal combustion engines appear in the form of combustion turbines or Wankel engines. Powered aircraft typically uses an ICE which may be a reciprocating engine. Airplanes can instead use jet engines and helicopters can instead employ turboshafts; both of which are types of turbines. In addition to providing propulsion, airliners may employ a separate ICE as an auxiliary power unit. Wankel engines are fitted to many unmanned aerial vehicles.
Big Diesel generator used for backup power
Combined cycle power plant
ICEs drive some of the large electric generators that power electrical grids. They are found in the form of combustion turbines in combined cycle power plants with a typical electrical output in the range of 100 MW to 1 GW. The high temperature exhaust is used to boil and superheat water to run a steam turbine. Thus, the efficiency is higher because more energy is extracted from the fuel than what could be extracted by the combustion turbine alone. In combined cycle power plants efficiencies in the range of 50% to 60% are typical. In a smaller scale Diesel generators are used for backup power and for providing electrical power to areas not connected to an electric grid.
Small engines (usually 2?stroke gasoline engines) are a common power source for lawnmowers, string trimmers, chain saws, leafblowers, pressure washers, snowmobiles, jet skis, outboard motors, mopeds, and motorcycles.
Some SI engines are crankcase scavenged
Diagram of a crankcase scavenged 2-stroke engine in operation
Some SI engines are crankcase scavenged and do not use poppet valves. Instead the crankcase and the part of the cylinder below the piston is used as a pump. The intake port is connected to the crankcase through a reed valve or a rotary disk valve driven by the engine. For each cylinder a transfer port connects in one end to the crankcase and in the other end to the cylinder wall. The exhaust port is connected directly to the cylinder wall. The transfer and exhaust port are opened and closed by the piston. The reed valve opens when the crankcase pressure is slightly below intake pressure, to let it be filled with a new charge; this happens when the piston is moving upwards. When the piston is moving downwards the pressure in the crankcase increases and the reed valve closes promptly, then the charge in the crankcase is compressed. When the piston is moving upwards, it uncovers the exhaust port and the transfer port and the higher pressure of the charge in the crankcase makes it enter the cylinder through the transfer port, blowing the exhaust gases. Lubrication is accomplished by adding 2-stroke oil to the fuel in small ratios. Petroil refers to the mix of gasoline with the aforesaid oil. This kind of 2-stroke engines has a lower efficiency than comparable 4-strokes engines and release a more polluting exhaust gases for the following conditions:
They use a total-loss lubrication system: all the lubricating oil is eventually burned along with the fuel.
There are conflicting requirements for scavenging: On one side, enough fresh charge needs to be introduced in each cycle to displace almost all the combustion gases but introducing too much of it means that a part of it gets in the exhaust.
They must use the transfer port(s) as a carefully designed and placed nozzle so that a gas current is created in a way that it sweeps the whole cylinder before reaching the exhaust port so as to expel the combustion gases, but minimize the amount of charge exhausted. 4-stroke engines have the benefit of forcibly expelling almost all of the combustion gases because during exhaust the combustion chamber is reduced to its minimum volume. In crankcase scavenged 2-stroke engines, exhaust and intake are performed mostly simultaneously and with the combustion chamber at its maximum volume.
The main advantage of 2-stroke engines of this type is mechanical simplicity and a higher power-to-weight ratio than their 4-stroke counterparts. Despite having twice as many power strokes per cycle, less than twice the power of a comparable 4-stroke engine is attainable in practice.
In the USA two stroke motorcycle and automobile engines were banned due to the pollution, although many thousands of lawn maintenance engines are in use.citation needed
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