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In an internal combustion engine a fire is started when the piston has finished its upward travel on the
compression stroke. The burning of fuel causes an expansion of gases, which then forces the piston
down on its power or expansion stroke. For this burning or fire to occur, three basic ingredients are
necessary: Air, Fuel, and Heat.
1. Air - Air is a mixture mainly of molecules of oxygen,
nitrogen and a few other minor elements. A molecule
may be thought of as a “ball” too small to be seen.
Billions of these molecules are jumping in every
direction, bouncing against one another. The velocity,
or the amount the molecules jump about, is high
when the temperature is high. The walls of the vessel
containing the gas are constantly bombarded by
billions of these tiny molecules. The force acting on
the unit area of the wall surface is pressure.

Figure 1.25 - Oxygen and nitrogen molecules

inside a combustion chamber.

The greater the velocity with which the molecules hit the wall, the higher the pressure.
The number of molecules does not change unless
there is some leakage. This means that the molecules
are more crowded in the compressed state, and that
each molecule travels a shorter distance to collide
with another molecule or to strike against the wall of
the cylinder. Molecules at or near the cylinder walls
bounce on the wall surface more frequently and more
intensely, resulting in greater total force, which is
referred to as an increase in pressure.

Figure 1.26 - Compression of the air molecules

increases heat within the cylinder.

Combustion is a common chemical reaction in which the gas “oxygen” combines with other
elements like hydrogen or carbon. An internal combustion engine develops horsepower by the
combustion of fuel in its cylinders. A large quantity of air is required for the fuel to burn because
only 20% of air is oxygen. Fuel oil consists of many atoms of carbon and hydrogen. When the fuel
burns, its carbon and hydrogen will combine with oxygen in the air to form carbonic acid gas
(carbon dioxide) and steam. In the process, heat is also generated. If all atoms of carbon and
hydrogen were to combine with those of oxygen, complete combustion of fuel will be accomplished.
However, if some carbon atoms fail to combine with oxygen atoms during combustion, they will
form either carbon monoxide (a colorless, odorless poisonous gas) or free carbon (not poisonous but
makes the black exhaust), thus causing incomplete combustion.

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Therefore, a certain amount of oxygen is indispensable for complete fuel combustion. Theoretically,
the most complete combustion of fuel would occur if 100% of the fuel is changed into carbon
dioxide and steam, with no forming of carbon monoxide or free carbon, and all the oxygen in the air
is consumed. Actually, all the carbon in the fuel does not always combine with all the oxygen in the
air so it is necessary to have more air than the theoretical amount. This is sometimes referred to as
Excess Air Ratio.
As an engine has a given size of cylinders, the amount of air drawn into the cylinders is constant.
Accordingly, the more the amount of fuel injected, the smaller the excess air ratio will be.
Conversely, the less fuel injected, the larger the excess air ratio. Feeding excessive fuel in order to
increase engine horsepower not only causes incomplete combustion (black smoke) but will also
result in very high exhaust temperatures. In the worst case, this heat rise causes cracks on pistons or
cylinder heads.
Another factor to consider is altitude. There are fewer
oxygen molecules in air at high altitude than at sea
level. The higher the altitude the lower the
atmospheric pressure and the thinner the air density.
The weight of one liter of air at sea level is 1.2 grams
and 0.77 grams at an altitude of 3,776m (12,389 ft.).
(Figure 1.27)

Figure 1.27 - Changes in altitude means a

change in available air, Excess Air Ratio.
If an engine is operated at high altitude in the same manner, as at a low altitude, it will result in
reduced engine output, black exhaust smoke, and higher exhaust temperature due to the lack of air.
Again, this is because, at high altitude, the excess air ratio will be reduced.
A drop in engine horsepower at high altitudes is unavoidable. Most naturally aspirated engines will
operate satisfactorily up to an elevation of about 1,000m (3,300 ft.). Operating these engines at
higher altitude will require adjustment of the fuel, but there will still be a loss of horsepower.
To keep normal engine output at high altitude the air should be forced into the cylinders by means of
supercharging. When done properly, supercharging provides the engine with the same amount of
oxygen molecules as at sea level, therefore making high altitude fuel adjustments unnecessary.
Figure 1.28 is an illustration showing supercharging. The larger containers represent the amount of
air getting into the cylinder and the smaller containers represent the amount of oxygen molecules
available for the burning of fuel.

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The cylinders on the left represent a cylinder of a
naturally aspirated engine at sea level and the
containers on the right represent the same size
cylinder that has been supercharged. There is an
abundance of air and oxygen.

Figure 1.28 - Naturally aspirated vs. a

supercharged cylinder.

When greater horsepower is desired from an engine that has a relatively small displacement, it can
be supercharged and then if the fuel amount is increased, the horsepower can be increased.
Normally, the maximum percentage that horsepower can be increased in this way is 30%.
In general, there are two types of devices used for the supercharging process, a turbo-type
(turbocharger) and a rotor-type (blower). The turbo-type utilizes the exhaust gases to drive the
charger with very slight loss of potential engine output. In the rotor-type, which is either belt or gear
driven, there is more loss of engine output.
2. Fuel - Fuel oil sprayed into ordinary atmosphere will not burn. Oxygen and high temperature are
needed to burn the oil. These two requirements are met by compressing a proper amount of air
within the engine cylinder. The process of burning
the fuel may be viewed in three successive stages: 1)
mixture formation, fuel globules vaporize and mix
with the air, 2) ignition, and 3) final combustion. The
very short interval from the moment the fuel oil is
injected to the moment the fuel oil begins to burn is a
delay or hesitating period. With an easier to burn fuel
or with finer globules of oil, this period is shorter.
Therefore, the finer the particle, the easier or faster
the combustion.

Figure 1.29 - Fuel oil injected into the cylinder.

To promote fuel oil vaporization, the total surface area of a given portion of fuel oil must be
increased. The surface of a droplet can be expanded hundreds of times by dividing it into finer
particles. This is the reason why an injection nozzle or injector is used to supply fuel oil to each
However, if the fuel being injected is excessively fine, vaporization might be completed in an
extremely short time and the entire fuel might explode rather than have controlled burning. This can
cause cracks in the cylinder liner and pistons.
On the other hand, large globules of fuel will burn slowly. Slow combustion does not develop the
high pressure (power), which the fuel is otherwise capable of. Some portion of the fuel may not burn

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but instead turn into soot, which shows up as black exhaust smoke. Therefore, the proper
atomization of the fuel is very important for clean burning of fuel and maximum horsepower.
With a given injection nozzle, the higher the injection
pressure the finer the globules produced by injection.
Injection pressure being, the pressure with which, the
fuel is forced out through the orifice in the nozzle.
With a too low injection pressure, the fuel oil might
spurt out straight without breaking into finer
globules. The nozzles and injectors used in Komatsu
engines are designed to spray at a constant pressure.

Figure 1.30 - Atomization of the fuel by the nozzle.

Just before the piston reaches its uppermost position, top dead center, some eddying or swirling
turbulence is induced in the combustion chamber. The fuel oil being injected will be thoroughly
mixed with the compressed air because of the turbulence so that it will burn completely.
Each diesel engine has its combustion chamber shaped for a certain
type of injection nozzle that is spraying the fuel in a particular
pattern. Too narrow a spraying angle is just as bad as too wide a
spraying angle. A crooked or cocked spray angle prevents fuel oil
from burning completely and will reduce engine horsepower output.

Figure 1.31 - Complete combustion

of the fuel injected into the

Correct spray pattern and atomization of the fuel in a cylinder filled with an adequate supply of
oxygen will not guarantee maximum power output. Another essential consideration is injection

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Figure 1.32 shows a result of measuring the cylinder
pressure in an engine in which the fuel injection
timing is changed at three stages.

Figure 1.32 - Effects of injection timing on

maximum pressure in a cylinder.

The timing of fuel is very important, but adjustment of timing is usually not necessary unless one of

x Coupling of the injection pump is excessively out of adjustment.

the following has occurred:

x The timer, when built in the injection pump, is defective.

x When the engine has been improperly assembled during overhaul.
If injection timing is advanced, exhaust color is good and there may be a slight increase in rpm's and
horsepower. However, in the advanced state, more heat and pressure are built up in the cylinder.

x Overheating
This can cause the following problems:

x Burnt inlet of a pre-combustion chamber

x Burnt glow plug
x Seizing of fuel nozzle or injector due to the high combustion gas being forced into nozzle
x Fuel leaking from gasket
x Knocking sound in engine
When the injection timing is retarded, cylinder pressure decreases, consequently there is some heat

x Black exhaust smoke

loss and all the fuel may not burn. This results in:

x Loss of horsepower

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3. Heat - The last element needed to burn the fuel in our
combustion chamber is heat.
Trapped air in a vessel has a physical property that if
compressing it reduces the volume, an increase in
temperature and in pressure takes place. The speed of
compressing the trapped air makes a difference in the
increase of the temperature and the pressure as the
two following charts indicate.
When compressed slowly, the temperature remains
relatively constant because the heat escapes through
the vessel wall but the pressure rises proportionally
to the volume reduction. The engineering term for
this type of compression is “isothermal”.

Figure 1.33 - Temperature rises slowly as the

pressure increases slowly.

When there is rapid compression, there is very little

chance for air to escape and the increase in
temperature is great. This type of compression is
called, “adiabatic.”
We have been assuming that a compressing device is
perfectly sealed and free from leakage. In actual
engine operation, the compression of air by the
piston may be somewhere between isothermal and
adiabatic. An engine running at high speed may be
regarded as working on adiabatic compression. For
example, at 2,000 rpm each, compression is
completed in 1.5/1000 second. There is practically no
time for the compressed air to leak. The heat of
compression cannot escape easily because the engine
is generally hot when it is running fast.

Figure 1.34 - Temperature rises rapidly when the

pressure increases rapidly.

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There are several ways to measure one engine against another. Following is a discussion of the most
common characteristics used when making engine comparisons.
1. Bore and stroke - The size of an engine cylinder is
usually indicated in terms of bore and stroke. The
bore is the diameter of the cylinder. The stroke is the
distance the piston moves in the cylinder, or the
distance between top dead center and bottom dead
When reference is made to these two measurements,
the bore is always given first. For example, a 95 x
115 mm (3.74” x 4.52”) cylinder means that the bore,
or diameter is 95 mm (3.74”) and the length of the
stroke is 115 mm (4.52”).

Figure 1.35 - The stroke of a cylinder is the

distance from BDC to TDC of the piston.

2. Piston displacement - Piston displacement is the volume of space that the piston displaces as it
moves from bottom dead center to top dead center. The volume is figured by multiplying the length
of the stroke by the area of a circle having the diameter of the cylinder bore. Thus, a 95mm (3.74")
diameter circle has an area of 70.88 sq. cm (10.98 sq. in.) and therefore, this times 11.5cm (4.52")
(length of stroke) equals 815.12 cubic centimeters per cylinder. If the engine has four cylinders it
would be a 3.26 l (199 cu. in.) engine.
3. Volumetric efficiency - When the piston starts to move downward in the cylinder on the intake
stroke, it produces a vacuum in the cylinder. If both the intake and exhaust valves were closed, then
no substance could enter this vacuum. The cylinder would remain empty. However, at the time that
the piston starts to move down, the intake valve is opened. Atmospheric pressure pushes air past the
intake valve and into the cylinder. The cylinder therefore becomes filled with air (or with air-fuel
mixture in gasoline engines).
It takes time for the air to flow through the intake manifold and past the intake valve. If given
enough time, enough air will enter to “fill it up.” The air is given very little time to do this. For
example, when the engine is running at 1,200 rpm, the intake stroke lasts only 0.025 second. In this

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very brief period, all the air that could enter does not have time to flow into the cylinder. The intake
stroke ends too quickly.
Engine designers take this factor into consideration so that good operation will result even at high
engine speed.
a. Measuring volumetric efficiency - The measure or the amount of air or air-fuel mixture that
actually enters the cylinder is referred to in terms of volumetric efficiency. Volumetric efficiency
is the ratio between the amounts of air or air-fuel mixture that actually enters the cylinder
compared to the amount that could enter under ideal conditions. The greater the volumetric
efficiency, the greater the amount of air or air-fuel mixture entering the cylinder. The greater the
air or air-fuel mixture, the more power the engine is capable of producing.
b. Increasing volumetric efficiency - Volumetric efficiency is higher at low engine speed because
more air gets into the cylinder. Volumetric efficiency can be improved in several ways. Some
engine manufacturers have installed intake manifolds designed to heat up the intake air. This
causes the air to rush into the cylinder faster. Most engine designers install a blower or an air-
compressing device such as a belt driven supercharger or exhaust gas driven turbocharger.
However, these devices must be sized exactly for the intended purpose because compressing the
air (or heating it) has the adverse affect of making the air thinner. One way to combat this is to
add a cooler (called an after cooler) after the air pump and before the intake valve.
4. Compression ratio - The compression ratio of an
engine is the volume in one cylinder with the piston
at bottom dead center (displacement volume plus
clearance volume) divided by the volume with the
piston at top dead center (clearance volume). (Figure
1.36) This figure indicates the actual amount that the
air drawn into the cylinder will be compressed. For
example, suppose that an engine cylinder has an air
volume of 63 cubic inches with the piston at bottom
dead center and a volume of 10 cubic inches with the
piston at top dead center. This gives a compression
ratio of 63 divided by 10 or 6.3:1. That is, the air is
compressed from 63 to 10 cubic inches, or to 1/6.3 of
its original volume.

Figure 1.36 - Compression Ratio is the ratio

between “A” and “B”.

As the compression ratio is increased, the air-fuel mixture is compressed into a smaller space. This
means that there will be a higher initial pressure at the start of the power stroke. It also means that
the burning gases can expand a greater amount. Thus, there are higher pressures for a longer period
on the power stroke. More power is obtained with each power stroke. Therefore, increasing com-
pression ratio increases power output of an engine.

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Engines vary in size and output. To compare engines, compare not only by their size, but also the work
they can do. These functions are explained in 1 through 10 below.
1. Work - Work is the movement of a body against an opposing force. When a weight is lifted from the
ground, work is done on the weight. It is moved upward against the force of gravity. When a tractor
pushes over a tree, it does work on the tree as it forces it to the ground. If a one-pound weight is
lifted one foot, one foot-pound of work is done.
2. Energy - Energy is the ability to do work. As the speed of a tractor is increased, the energy of the
movement of the tractor is increased. It can thereby knock over a tree more easily. The higher a
weight is lifted from the ground, the more energy is stored in the weight. Then, when it falls, it will
strike the ground harder; that is, it will do more work on the ground. Suppose a stake is being driven
into the ground. The greater the distance the weight (hammer) falls, the more work it does on the
stake and the further it drives it into the ground.
3. Power - Power is the rate of speed at which work is done and can be expressed by:
Work Done
Power = ------------------
Time Interval
Work can be done slowly or quickly. A high-powered engine can do much work in a short time and
a low powered engine takes a longer time to do a little work.
4. Horsepower - In former times an engine's ability to
do work was compared to the work ability of horses.
A horsepower (HP) is the power of one horse. Since
horses come in many sizes it became necessary to set
a standard to express the power of one horse. The
English standard HP is that if a horse could lift a
weight of 550 pounds one foot in one second; this
was equal to one horsepower. (Figure 1.37)

Figure 1.37 - A horse lifting a 550 lb. weight one

foot in one second equals one horsepower (HP).

The metric equivalent for the English standard HP is (PS). The concept is identical; however, the
units of measurement are different. A meter is used instead of a foot for distance, and 75 kilograms
instead of 550 pounds is used for weight.
Today horsepower is the term used for rating engine power. More specifically, horsepower is the

x 1 HP = 550 ft.-lbs./sec.
work done when one engine revolution is accomplished in one second.

x 1 HP = 1.014 PS
x 1 PS = 75 kg-m/sec.
x 1 PS =. 986 HP

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Also, engines convert up and down reciprocating motion into rotating (twisting or turning) force
called torque. Therefore, the larger the torque or the faster the speed, the more work that may be
5. Dynamometer - The most common device used to measure engine horsepower and torque is a dyna-
mometer. The dynamometer is essentially a dynamo of a special type, which can be driven by an
engine. This special dynamo can absorb all the power the engine can produce and indicate this
power on dials or gages. In addition to measuring engine power output, the dynamometer can also be
used to drive the engine for purposes of measuring the friction of the engine itself or of various
6. Torque effect
a. Torque is twisting or turning effort. When a jar is
loosened, a twisting force, or torque, is applied.
(Figure1.38) Torque is measured in pound-feet
(not to be confused with work, which is measured
in foot-pounds). For instance, suppose a wrench
is used to tighten a nut on a stud. If the handle of
the wrench was 1 foot long and a 10-pound force
is put on its end, 10 pound-feet of torque would
be applied on the nut. If the handle were 2 feet
long and 10 pound-force is put on its end, 20
pound-feet of torque would be applied.

Figure 1.38 - Torque equals twisting or turning


Torque can be converted into work. The formula

x ft.-lb. [work] = rpm [speed] x 6.2832 x lb.-ft.



Figure 1.39 - Applying torque with a

wrench on a nut.

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For example, if an engine were checked on a dynamometer and found to be delivering 100
pound-feet of torque at 1,000 rpm then it would be doing 628,320 foot-pounds of work every
minute. This can be converted into horsepower by dividing it by 33,000.
See the chart showing the relationship between torque and speed. (Figure 1.40)
b. The engine exerts torque through gears and
shafts connected to the wheels so that the
wheels turn and the vehicle moves. The amount
of torque that an engine produces varies with
engine speed. (Figure 1.40) Notice that torque
increases and then, at an intermediate speed,
falls off. The reason for this variation is with
increasing speed, the engine is turning faster
and is thus capable of supplying a greater
twisting force, or torque. However, with further
speed increases, volumetric efficiency falls off.
Consequently, less air-fuel mixture gets into the
cylinder each intake stroke. Therefore, the
power strokes are not as powerful, so torque
Figure 1.40 - Relationship between torque
and speed.
7. Torque-Horsepower-Speed relationship
a. Figure 1.41 shows the comparison between the
horsepower and torque of an engine. Torque
increases with speed, up to the rated speed.

Figure 1.41 - Relationship between torque,

horsepower, and speed.

Horsepower also shows a change with increased speed, and this is more noticeable than with
torque. Horsepower is directly related to both torque and to speed. When both torque and speed
are on the increase, as in the speed range of 1,200 to 1,600 rpm, then horsepower goes up
sharply. When torque reaches maximum and then begins to taper off, the horsepower curve starts
to drop. Finally, in the higher speed ranges, where torque falls off sharply, horsepower also falls

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off. In engineering calculations the term horsepower (HP) is frequently used as a measure of
power. One horsepower is 33,000 ft.-lb. per minute or 550 ft.-lb. per second. The formula often
used to find horsepower is:
torque x rpm
HP = ---------------
This formula shows the relationship between horsepower, torque, and speed more directly.
b. A rated speed is indicated in Figures 1.40 and 1.41. This is the speed at which the governor is
set. The rated speed is selected because, at higher engine speeds, wear on the engine increases
rapidly and a disproportionate amount of fuel is used. Over-speeding, or driving the engine
above rated speed, will give a slight increase of horsepower but has the adverse effect of
decreasing engine life.
8. Gross and net horsepower - The gross horsepower of an engine is the amount of power the engine
delivers after it has been stripped of the muffler, fan, generator, pump, and other accessories that
require power to operate. Net horsepower is the power remaining and actually available to drive the
vehicle or do work. In other words, net horsepower is the power available at the flywheel with acces-
sories installed.
9. Indicated horsepower - Indicated horsepower is the horsepower actually developed inside the
engine cylinders. It is called indicated horsepower because a special indicating device is required.
This device measures the pressures developed in the engine cylinders and, by a series of
calculations, translates this data into indicated horsepower. Indicated horsepower is always
considerably greater than horsepower delivered by the engine, because power is lost from the engine
in a number of ways, such as friction, heat-loss, accessories, etc.
10. SAE horsepower - The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developed a simplified method of
calculating horsepower, based on engine dimensions. This rating was used only for the commercial
licensing of vehicles. The formula is:
HP = -------
Where D is the cylinder diameter and N is the number of cylinders.

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The term efficiency means the relationship between results obtained and the effort required to obtain
those results. It is expressed as:
efficiency =______
Suppose, for example, a set of pulleys were used to raise a 450-pound
weight 2 feet and this required a 100-pound pull for 10 feet.
It would take 1,000 foot-pounds to get out 900 foot-pounds. This ratio
would be:
_____, or 0.90
In other words, the efficiency of the pulleys would be 90%. There was a
10% loss of work exerted. The illustrated system of pulleys shows a
loss, or is only 90% efficient because of friction. No machine or engine
is 100% efficient. All lose energy, as is explained below.

Figure 1.42 - Efficiency

Ratio of work performed.
1. Friction loss - Friction is a source of energy loss in any mechanical system. If a heavy plank is
dragged across a rough floor, it offers some resistance to the movement. This resistance would be
less if the plank and floor were polished smooth. Resistance would be still less if the plank floated in
water. This resistance to movement is called friction. Friction can be visualized as being caused by
tiny irregularities, or high points, on the surfaces of moving objects. These catch on each other and
particles are torn off. All of this requires force to overcome. If the plank and floor are made smooth,
then the projecting points are much smaller and have fewer tendencies to catch and tear off.
Therefore, less force is required to pull the plank across the floor. And if the plank is floated in
water, the surfaces can no longer rub against each other. There is, however, still some friction in the
liquid. In the engine, friction occurs at all moving parts, even though the parts are floating in oil.
2. Mechanical efficiency - The mechanical efficiency of the engine is the relationship between the
power produced in the engine cylinders, indicated horsepower and the power delivered by the
engine, brake horsepower (BHP). Internal engine losses from friction and other factors always
prevent brake horsepower from equaling indicated horsepower. A typical engine, for example, might
develop 200 indicated horsepower and have an actual brake horsepower of 180. This engine would
have a mechanical efficiency of:

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Brake horsepower 180
-------------------------------- = 90%
Indicated horsepower 200

3. Thermal efficiency
a. Thermal efficiency is the relationship between the heat energy in the fuel and the engine power
output. Thermal means have or pertaining to heat. The term thermal efficiency relates to the heat
energy of the fuel and the work output. The heat energy is the amount of heat the fuel will
produce as it burns. Much of this heat is lost to the cylinder walls and cooling system. Still more
is lost in the hot exhaust gases as they pass out of the cylinder. This heat that is lost cannot do
anything to cause the engine to produce power. Therefore, only a small part of the heat in the
burning fuel can contribute anything toward pushing down on the pistons and thereby causing
the engine to produce power. In actual practice, because of the great amount of heat lost to the
cooling water, lubricating oil, and exhaust gases, thermal efficiency may be as low as 20%. In
other words, as much as 80% of the energy in the fuel is lost. However, the remaining 20% is
sufficient to operate the engine normally. Practical limitations prevent thermal efficiencies of
more than 25%.
b. The overall thermal efficiency of an engine is the relationship between the fuel input and the
power output. This relationship is commonly expressed as heat units called British thermal units
(Btu). One Btu is equal to 778 ft.-lb. of work; therefore, the horsepower output of an engine can
be readily converted into Btu per unit of time. The source of power in an engine is fuel, and the
Btu content of regularly-used fuels has been determined by laboratory analysis:

Thermal efficiency = Power output in Btu

Fuel input in Btu
Example - An engine delivers 85 bhp for a period of 1 hour and in that time it consumes 50
pounds (about 7½ gals.) of gasoline. Assuming that the gasoline has a value of 18,800 Btu per
lb., we find the thermal efficiency of the engine in the following manner.
Power delivered by engine is 85 BHP for 1 hour, or 85 HP-hours:

1 HP hour = 33,000 ft.-lb. per min. x 60 min.

-------------------------------------- = 2,545 Btu
778 ft.-lb. per Btu

85 BHP x 2,545 Btu = 216,325 Btu output

50 lb. x 18,800 Btu per lb.= 940,000 Btu input per hour
Therefore, the overall thermal efficiency equals

------------ = 0.230, or 23%

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