Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Aircraft Piston Engine Operation

The principles which govern the relationship between the pressure, volume, and temperature of gases are the basic principles of engine operation.

An internal-combustion engine is a device for converting heat energy into mechanical energy.  Fuel (Avgas) is vaporized and mixed with air, forced or drawn into a cylinder, compressed by a piston, and then ignited by an electric spark.  The conversion of the resultant heat energy into mechanical energy and then into work is accomplished in the cylinder.  There are various engine components necessary to accomplish this conversion and for efficiency of the engine.

The operating cycle of an internal combustion reciprocating engine includes the series of events required to induct, compress, ignite, burn, and expand the fuel/air charge in the cylinder, and to scavenge or exhaust the by-products of the combustion process.

When the compressed air fuel mixture is ignited, the resultant gases of combustion expand very rapidly and force the piston to move away from the cylinder head.  This downward motion of the piston, acting on the crankshaft through the connecting rod, is converted to a circular or rotary motion by the crankshaft.

A valve in the top or head of the cylinder opens to allow the burned gases to escape, and the momentum of the crankshaft and the propeller forces the piston back up in the cylinder where it is ready for the next event in the cycle.  Another valve in the cylinder head then opens to let in a fresh charge of the fuel/air mixture.
The valve allowing for the escape of the burning exhaust gases is called the exhaust valve, and the valve which lets in the fresh charge of the fuel/air mixture is called the intake valve.  These valves are opened and closed mechanically at the proper times by the valve-operating mechanism.

The bore of a cylinder is its inside diameter.  The stroke is the distance the piston moves from one end of the cylinder to the other, specifically, from TDC (Top Dead Centre) to BDC (Bottom Dead Centre), or vice versa.


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