What is an Engine? [Combustion & Non-Combustion Engines with Types]

By | August 7, 2018

What comes to your mind when someone starts a talk about engines.

Undoubtedly you instantly imagine about your car engine.

For many of us the word engine is synonyms with the reciprocating internal combustion engine which we use in our cars.

But that is not right.

Let us go through the definition of engine

“An engine is a device which converts one form of energy into another”

Form the above definition of engine we think everything should be clear.

But for more clarity let us explain.

Do you know apart from the reciprocating internal combustion engine there are many other engines which also converts on form of energy into other.

Some examples of engines other than reciprocating internal combustion engines are

  • Steam turbine
  • Windmill alternator
  • Hydro power generation turbine etc.

From the above discussion one can easily understand that we can divide engines into two parts

Types of engines

  1. Combustion engines
  2. Non-Combustion Engines

What are combustion engines?

Combustion engines are those engines in which we have to burn some fuel to obtain some thermal energy. Then these engines convert that thermal energy into useful work.


Types of combustion engines

Combustion engines are divided broadly into two types based on the place of combustion of fuel.

These are

External combustion engines

In external combustion engines fuel is burned outside the engine and the thermal energy produced by the fuel brought to engine with the help of some heat carrying fluid.

Internal combustion engines

In Internal combustion engines fuel is burned inside the engine and the thermal energy obtained by combustion of fuel is converted into useful work. One of the most common type of internal combustion we are most familiar with is reciprocating internal combustion engine, which we generally use in our cars.

What are non-combustion engines?

Non-combustion engines are the type of engines which convert the forms of energy which are not directly obtained through combustion of fuel.

These engines generally convert energy obtained through the water or wind with the help of electric alternator.

As discussed above most common examples of non-combustion engine are windmill engine and hydro-power plant engine.

Image (also featured) attribution: By Thesupermat – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13387359

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