A heat engine is a device that converts heat to work. It takes heat from a reservoir then does work such as lifting weight and moving a piston and finally discharges heat energy into the sink. The goal of the heat engine is to convert heat energy into useful work. Carnot engine is one of the simplest forms of heat engine.
A heat engine is defined as a device that converts the chemical energy of the fuel into heat energy. This heat energy is used to do useful mechanical work.
Schematically this is represented as follows:
A basic heat engine consists of a chamber in which gas is confined in a cylinder by the piston. When the gas is heated, the piston moves upwards and downwards when it cools. A cycle of cooling and heating is necessary to make the piston move backwards and forward.
Following are a few examples of heat engines that we make use of in everyday life:
- A steam engine is a heat engine that uses steam as a working fluid to perform work. Steam engines are used to power an array of transport appliances.
- Diesel engines are the compression-ignition engines that use the heat of compression to initiate ignition to burn the fuel. Larger transport applications such as trucks, buses use these types of engines.
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