Cover image for The middle ages of the internal-combustion engine, 1794-1886
The middle ages of the internal-combustion engine, 1794-1886
Hardenberg, Horst O.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Warrendale, Pa. : Society of Automotive Engineers, [1999]

Physical Description:
498 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
"Prepared under the auspices of the SAE Historical Committee."
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


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TJ753 .H38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Popular myth holds that as steam engine development peaked around 1880, Nicholas Otto suddenly thought of "internal combustion" as a better way; in fact, internal combustion engines evolved over a period of several hundred years. Hardenberg's "middle ages" refers to the 90-year period from the revival of interest in internal combustion engines to supplement heavy, inefficient, low-pressure steam engines then common, to the marketing of Otto's breakthrough four-stroke engine. Hardenberg's is the most thorough study of this critical period in which he claims science played little part, but when most hardware used in modern engines was conceived. Forty chapters describe roughly 200 attempts to develop a light, efficient engine, as inventors experimented with fuel (including mixtures of lard and whisky), ignition, and power control systems. Hardenberg describes his approach as "physiological," concentrating on the "working process" the inventor envisioned and its ideal efficiency, rather than social context. The Middle Ages convincingly debunks several common historical fallacies, but readers should beware occasional efficiencies misprinted by factors of 10 or 100. Archival drawings and references throughout. A treasure-trove for those interested in thermodynamics; less interesting to cultural historians or general readers. Graduate students through professionals. G. E. Herrick; Maine Maritime Academy