Diagram showing the operation of a 4-stroke SI engine
Main article: 4-stroke engine
Diagram showing the operation of a 4-stroke SI engine. Labels:
1 ? Induction
2 ? Compression
3 ? Power
4 ? Exhaust
The top dead center (TDC) of a piston is the position where it is nearest to the valves; bottom dead center (BDC) is the opposite position where it is furthest from them. A stroke is the movement of a piston from TDC to BDC or vice versa together with the associated process. While an engine is in operation the crankshaft rotates continuously at a nearly constant speed. In a 4-stroke ICE each piston experiences 2 strokes per crankshaft revolution in the following order. Starting the description at TDC, these are:78
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Internal combustion engines require ignition of the mixture, either by spark ignition (SI) or compression ignition (CI). Before the invention of reliable electrical methods, hot tube and flame methods were used. Experimental engines with laser ignition have been built.15
Spark Ignition Process
Points and Coil Ignition
The spark ignition engine was a refinement of the early engines which used Hot Tube ignition. When Bosch developed the magneto it became the primary system for producing electricity to energize a spark plug.16 Many small engines still use magneto ignition. Small engines are started by hand cranking using a recoil starter or hand crank . Prior to Charles F. Kettering of Delco's development of the automotive starter all gasoline engined automobiles used a hand crank.17
Larger engines typically power their starting motors and Ignition systems using using the electrical energy stored in a lead?acid battery. The battery's charged state is maintained by an automotive alternator or (previously) a generator which uses engine power to create electrical energy storage.
The battery supplies electrical power for starting when the engine has a starting motor system, and supplies electrical power when the engine is off. The battery also supplies electrical power during rare run conditions where the alternator cannot maintain more than 13.8 volts (for a common 12V automotive electrical system). As alternator voltage falls below 13.8 volts, the lead-acid storage battery increasingly picks up electrical load. During virtually all running conditions, including normal idle conditions, the alternator supplies primary electrical power.