Engine Types

A basic list of all of the different types of engines:

  • Compressed Air Engine – essentially a steam engine, but a engine that operates from a tank or supply of compressed air.
  • Diesel Engine – an internal-combustion engine in which the fuel is injected into the cylinder near the end of the compression stroke and is ignited by the heat of the compressed air in the cylinder.
  • Gas Turbine – a turbine driven by the expansion of burning fuel.
  • Petrol Engine – an internal-combustion engine in which the fuel is petrol that is drawn or injected into the cylinder along with air and ignited with an electric spark. There are a number of different configurations of internal combustion engines.
  • Steam Engine – an engine that uses steam to produce useful work.
  • Steam Turbine – a turbine driven by steam expansion through the blades of the turbine.
  • Stirling Engine – an external combustion engine.

Historical Notes

  • 50BC Steam engine invented by Heron of Alexandria.
  • 1705 Thomas Newcomen invents a steam engine which uses both atmospheric pressure and low-pressure steam to pump water out of mines.
  • 1769 Watt invented the modern steam engine.
  • 1769 Cugnot’s carriage is the first large steam tractor. It was slow, clumsy and difficult to control.
  • 1774 James Watt moves to Birmingham and enters a partnership with Matthew Boulton, designing and manufacturing steam engines for customers.
  • 1803 Richard Trevithick constructs the first steam locomotive.
  • 1816 Scottish clergyman, Robert Stirling invents the ststirling engine.
  • 1824 The French physicist Nicholas Leonard Sadi Carnot publishes his book Reflexions sur la Puissance Motrice du Feu. This links work and heat, defines work and gets close to the second law of thermodynamics. It also proposes the idea of the internal combustion engine.
  • 1877 Four stroke internal combustion engine invented by Nikolaus Otto.
  • 1892 Diesel engine invented by Rudolf Diesel.
  • 1930 Jet engine invented by Frank Whittle.
  • 1957 First working prototype Wankel engine was run at the NSU research and development dept.