The reciprocating engine revolutionized the world. It is at the heart of locomotion, stationary machinery, power tools and power generation equipments. Without the invention of Engines it is doubtful that the world would be as advanced as it is today.
In the current context reciprocating engine is usually associated with internal combustion gas, petrol or diesel fueled engines. However, in broad terms, reciprocating means use of a piston connected through a shaft to a crankshaft that turns linear motion into rotary motion in a continuous cycle. Reciprocating engines go a long way back in time.
Robert Stirling, a Scot, invented a closed cycle air engine in 1816 using external combustion to heat air. A design based on his model is used in low power applications including solar based alternate energy options in recent times.
Reciprocating engine is often known as a piston engine which is driven with heat and pressure, which converts the force into a rotating motion. This principle is a common feature applied in most forms of engines available today.
Compressed air, steam or hot gas operated reciprocating engine.
Since the internal combustion engine is the most widely used form of reciprocating engine the parts are described for this type:
External reciprocating engine parts:
In all such reciprocating designs expansion of hot gases causes piston to move in and out of a cylinder and the piston with a connecting rod drives a crankshaft that converts linear motion to rotary motion.
The overall challenge is to arrive at the best compromise in terms of fuel consumption to tackle stricter emission norms along with better power generation.
A regular reciprocating engine requires some regular check for up-keep and maintenance.