The Miracle of the Car – Part Two – The Seven Subsystems of the Internal Combustion Engine
SHOULD EVERY 8TH GRADER KNOW WHAT THE SEVEN SUBSYSTEMS OF THE INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE ARE?
Yes. From an ethical perspective nothing is more important in life than appreciating the world around you. That world includes both natural systems and engineered systems. Neither should be taken for granted. No engineered system is more ubiquitous
than the automobile. Nothing is more intriguing to children than cars. What a perfect way to teach science?
In Part One of this series on the car we discussed the miracle of 132 molecular bombs exploding per second under the hood. But this generates a huge amount of heat that must be dissipated through the cooling system (eg. coolant, radiator, fan), as well as a huge amount of exhaust which must be cleaned up in the catalytic converter and expelled through the tail pipe, and a huge amount of sound that must be muffled, a huge amount of friction that needs lubrication, a very precise opening and closing of valves that is accomplished by an ingenious contraption called a camshaft driven by a timing belt attached to the crankshaft, then it needs a very precise mix of fuel and air provided once by the carburetor and now by a fuel injection system, which must be ignited by a spark
plug jolted by high voltage from an electrical system which includes a battery, an alternator (a generator tied also to the crankshaft), and an induction coil (transformer) to boost the voltage. Alternatively, combustion can be achieved without a spark plug via compression alone (as in diesel engines).
A thing of beauty or what? Analogous to the orchestration of strings, winds, percussion, brass, vocalists. The work of thousands of nameless scientists, engineers, and tinkerers over generations. Honor them!
Next time: the miracle of the transmission system.
Experts, YOUR TURN: please correct, elaborate, elucidate.