How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 709

Why are there pistons in an engine? — T, Enola, PA
The pistons in a gasoline engine compress the fuel and air mixture before ignition and then extract energy from the burned gases after ignition. When the engine is operating, each piston travels in and out of a cylinder with one closed end many times a second. The piston makes four different strokes during its travels. In the first or "intake" stroke, the piston travels away from the closed end of the cylinder and draws the fuel and air mixture into the cylinder through an opened valve. During the second or "compression" stroke, the piston travels toward the closed end of the cylinder and compresses the fuel and air mixture to high pressure, density, and temperature. The spark plug now ignites the fuel and air mixture and it burns. During the third or "power" stroke, the piston travels away from the closed end of the cylinder and the expanding gases do work on the piston, providing it with the energy that propels the car forward. During the fourth or "exhaust" stroke, the piston travels toward the closed end of the cylinder and pushes the burned gases out of the cylinder through another opened valve.
         

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