Otto engine

Otto Engine Types

There are three types of internal combustion engines designed by German inventors Nikolaus August Otto and his partner Eugen Langen
Eugen Langen
Eugen Langen was a German entrepreneur, engineer and inventor, involved in the development of the petrol engine and the Wuppertal monorail. In 1857 he worked in his father's sugar factory, JJ Langen & Söhne, after an extensive technical training at the Polytechnic institute in Karlsruhe.-Otto and...

. They are the 1862 compression engine, which failed, the 1864 atmospheric engine, and the engine known today as the "Gasoline Engine", the Otto Cycle engine created in 1876. Otto engines were used primarily for stationary uses, as Otto had no interest in transportation. Other makers such as Daimler perfected the Otto Engine for transportation use


In 1861, the French engineer Alphonse Beau de Rochas originated the principle of the four-stroke internal-combustion engine.

Nikolaus August Otto as a young man was a traveling salesman for a grocery concern. In his travels he encountered the internal combustion engine built in Paris by Belgian expatriate Jean Joseph Etienne Lenoir
Etienne Lenoir
-Sources:* Georgano, G.N. Cars: Early and Vintage 1886-1930. London: Grange-Universal, 1990 . ISBN 0-9509620-3-1....

. In 1860 Lenoir succeeded in creating a double-acting
Double-acting cylinder
A double-acting cylinder in a reciprocating engine is a cylinder in which the working fluid acts alternately on both sides of the piston. This is in contrast to a single-acting cylinder, in which the working fluid acts in one direction only....

 engine which ran on illuminating gas at 4% efficiency. The 18 liter Lenoir Engine was able to produce only 2 horsepower. The Lenoir engine ran on the illuminating gas that was made from coal which had been developed in Paris by Philip Lebon
Philippe le Bon
Philippe le Bon was a French engineer, born in Brachay, France.There is much confusion about his life and accomplishments. His main contributions were improvements to steam engines and industrializing the extraction of lighting gas from wood...


In testing a replica of the Lenoir engine in 1861 Otto became aware of the effects of compression on the fuel charge. In 1862 Otto attempted to produce an engine to improve on the poor efficiency and reliability of the Lenoir engine. He tried to create an engine which would compress the fuel mixture prior to ignition, but failed as that engine would run no more than a few minutes prior to its destruction. Many engineers were also trying to solve the problem with no success.

In 1864 Otto and Eugen Langen founded the first internal combustion engine production company NA Otto and Cie (NA Otto and Company). Otto and Cie succeeded in creating a successful atmospheric engine that same year.

The factory ran out of space and was moved to the town of Deutz, Germany in 1869 where the company was renamed to Deutz Gasmotorenfabrik AG
Deutz AG
Deutz AG is an engine manufacturer, based in Cologne, Germany.-History:The company was founded by Nikolaus Otto, inventor of the four-stroke internal combustion engine, in 1864 as N. A...

 (The Deutz Gas Engine Manufacturing Company).

Gottlieb Daimler
Gottlieb Daimler
Gottlieb Daimler was an engineer, industrial designer and industrialist born in Schorndorf , in what is now Germany. He was a pioneer of internal-combustion engines and automobile development...

 was technical director and Wilhelm Maybach
Wilhelm Maybach
Wilhelm Maybach was an early German engine designer and industrialist. During the 1890s he was hailed in France, then the world centre for car production, as the "King of constructors"....

 was the head of engine design. Daimler was a gunsmith who had also worked on the Lenoir engine previously.
By 1876 Otto and Langen succeeded in creating the first internal combustion engine that compressed the fuel mixture prior to combustion for far higher efficiency than any engine created to this time.

Atmospheric Engine

The Otto/Langen Atmospheric Engine

The Original Otto Atmospheric Engine running on Youtube

The first version of the Atmospheric engine used a fluted column design which was the design of Eugen Langen. The Atmospheric engine has its power stroke delivered upward using a rack and pinion to convert the piston's linear motion to rotary motion. The expansion ratio of this engine was much more effective than that of the 1860 Lenoir engine and gave the engine its superior efficiency.

This is an engine that burned fuel without first trying to compress the fuel/mixture. The Otto/Langen Atmospheric engine ran at 12% efficiency. This engine produced 0.5 HP at 80 RPM. In competition at the 1867 World's Fair
Exposition Universelle (1867)
The Exposition Universelle of 1867 was a World Exposition held in Paris, France, in 1867.-Conception:In 1864, Emperor Napoleon III decreed that an international exposition should be held in Paris in 1867. A commission was appointed with Prince Jerome Napoleon as president, under whose direction...

 in Paris it easily bested the efficiency of the Lenoir engine and won the Gold Medal, thus paving the way for production and sales which funded additional research.

The first versions of the atmospheric engine used a frame to stabilize the rack but this was soon dispensed with as the engine design was simplified. Later engines dispensed with the fluted cylinder as well.

The atmospheric engine used a gas flame ignition system and was made in output sizes from 0.25 to 3.0 hp. In 1882, after producing 2,649 engines, the atmospheric engine production was discontinued. This was also the year that Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach left the company.

The Otto Cycle

The Otto Engine of 1876

An Otto engine with slide valve ignition

After 14 years of research and development Otto succeeded in creating the compressed charge internal combustion engine May 9, 1876. Otto found a way to layer the fuel mixture into the cylinder to cause the fuel to burn in a progressive, as opposed to explosive fashion. He referred to this as being a layered or stratified charge. This resulted in controlled combustion and a longer push of the piston in the cylinder rather than the explosion which destroyed all the engines attempted previously. The fuel was still Illuminating Gas
Coal gas
Coal gas is a flammable gaseous fuel made by the destructive distillation of coal containing a variety of calorific gases including hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and volatile hydrocarbons together with small quantities of non-calorific gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen...

just as Lenoir's and his own atmospheric engines had used.

This engine that uses four cycles in it's creation of power. It is known now as the Otto Cycle engine. This is the same engine that was first attempted in 1862.

The cylinder arrangement of the compression engine was horizontal. It featured a slider valve control with gas flame ignition, which overcame the problems that Lenoir could not overcome with electric ignition which was unreliable at that time. In the 15 years prior to the development of the Otto engine power output never exceeded 3 hp. In a few years after the Otto engine was developed engine power rose until it reached 1000 hp.

The Otto Cycle engine was eventually adopted to run on Ligroin and eventually gasoline, and many gases. During WWII Otto engines were run on more than 62 different fuels, such as wood gas, coal gas, propane, hydrogen, benzine, and many more. The engine is limited to light fuels. A later development of this engine, known as the Diesel engine can burn heavy fuels and oils.

Carburetor and Low Voltage Ignition

Deutz also developed the carburetor and a reliable low voltage ignition system in 1884. This allowed the use of Liquid Petroleum fuel for the first time and made the use of the engine in transportation feasible. This work was conducted in parallel to the work of Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach who also developed a carburetor which replaced the original hot tube ignition on the Petroleum Reitwagen, and a magneto system which formed the basis of the magneto of the Robert Bosch Corporation. Daimler continued the development of Otto's engine for transportation while Deutz switched to Diesel engines.

Loss of a Patent

In 1886 the German patent office nullified the Deutz patent that would have run until 1891 due to the discovery of a previous patent for a four cycle engine by Frenchman Beau De Rochas. Deutz was unable to show that his stratified charge induction system was unlike that described in the Rochas patent and lost his monopoly and 1 of his 25 patents. By 1889 more than 50 companies were manufacturing Otto design engines.

Spark plug firing

The Otto is one of the first engines to use a spark plug
Spark plug
A spark plug is an electrical device that fits into the cylinder head of some internal combustion engines and ignites compressed fuels such as aerosol, gasoline, ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas by means of an electric spark.Spark plugs have an insulated central electrode which is connected by...

, which is a device that produces a small electric spark
Electric spark
An electric spark is a type of electrostatic discharge that occurs when an electric field creates an ionized electrically conductive channel in air producing a brief emission of light and sound. A spark is formed when the electric field strength exceeds the dielectric field strength of air...

 to ignite the fuel charge. Otto engines were equipped with a number of different mechanism designs to trigger sparking. This usually consisted of a pivoting trip-arm that briefly grabs a power switch lever and gives it a quick pull. The switch lever is then released and allowed to snap back to its original position in preparation for the next cycle. This system requires an external electric battery, ignition coil
Ignition coil
An ignition coil is an induction coil in an automobile's ignition system which transforms the battery's 12 volts to the thousands of volts needed to create an electric spark in the spark plugs to ignite the fuel...

, and electric charging system similar to modern automobile engines.

Later Otto engines employed a small magneto
A magneto is a type of electrical generator.Magneto may also refer to:* Magneto , permanent magnetic alternating current rotary generator* ignition magneto, magnetos on internal combustion engines...

 directly on the engine. Rather than tripping a switch, the spark plug firing arm applies a quick rotation to the magneto rotor, which then snaps back under spring tension. This quick rotation of the magneto coil produces a very brief current flow that fires the spark plug and ignites the fuel. This design has the advantage of requiring no external battery, and is how modern portable gas engines operate, incorporating the magnet portion of the magneto into the flywheel
A flywheel is a rotating mechanical device that is used to store rotational energy. Flywheels have a significant moment of inertia, and thus resist changes in rotational speed. The amount of energy stored in a flywheel is proportional to the square of its rotational speed...

. Modern portable engines excite the magneto with every flywheel rotation, and so use a cam-operated electric switch to prevent plug firing except for the power stroke of the engine (see wasted spark
Wasted spark
The wasted spark system is an ignition system used with some four-stroke cycle internal combustion engines. In a wasted spark system, the spark plugs fire in pairs even though one is on its compression stroke and one is on its exhaust stroke. The extra spark on the exhaust stroke has no effect and...


Engine speed regulation

This is a demonstration of how the speed regulation works in the Otto engine. The spinning balls are the centrifugal governor
Centrifugal governor
A centrifugal governor is a specific type of governor that controls the speed of an engine by regulating the amount of fuel admitted, so as to maintain a near constant speed whatever the load or fuel supply conditions...

, and as the machine runs slower the small wheel moves to the left, inserting the rod into the nearby roller and pushing it up to trigger the intake of fuel to fire the engine for one revolution.

If the machine is under load and still running too slowly, the cam continues to stay inserted and makes the engine fire repeatedly for each ignition cycle. When the engine speed increases, the governor pulls the small wheel to the right and the machine coasts without injecting any fuel, though the spark plug continues to fire with no fuel in the cylinder.

This method of speed-control is often referred to as the Hit or Miss method because the engine mis-fires (for lack of fuel-mixture) on those power-strokes where the engine is running faster than the governed speed, but will hit (fire) on power strokes where the speed is too low. Note that no fuel is used on the mis-fire strokes.

Cylinder cooling

Otto engines use a flowing water jacket
Water jacket
A water jacket is a water-filled void surrounding a device, typically a metal sheath having intake and outlet vents to allow water to be pumped through the void. The flow of water to an external heating or cooling device allows precise temperature control of the device.-Applications:Water jackets...

 around the cylinder wall, similar to modern engine cooling systems. The stationary Otto engines on display at the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion
WMSTR, or the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion, is an annual, non-profit "steam meet" held in the small town of Rollag, Minnesota...

 all share a single large heat radiator
Radiators are heat exchangers used to transfer thermal energy from one medium to another for the purpose of cooling and heating. The majority of radiators are constructed to function in automobiles, buildings, and electronics...

 outside the building. This centralized distant heat dissipation system also helps to keep the engine building cool.
First Use in Transportation=
Otto and his manager Gottleib Daimler had a major disagreement on the future direction of the Otto engine. While Otto wanted to produce large engines for stationary applications Daimler wanted to produce engines small enough to be used in transportation. After a period of disagreement Daimler left Otto's employ and took Wilhelm Maybach with him. In 1883 Daimler and Maybach created a .5 hp engine that was small and efficient. In order to evade the patents that Otto held on the engine design, a pretense was found concerning a patent issued to Beau De Rochas in 1862, the same year that Otto failed to create his four cycle engine the first time. Those who were jealous of the Otto patents (there were 25 patents) had 1 patent overturned in Germany largely because the court failed to understand the significance of Otto's layered charge system which overcame the problems of explosive combustion which destroyed all engine designs previously.

Daimler always referred to his design as an explosion engine, to contrast it against Otto's engine and was able to evade paying royalties to Otto. In 1885 he and Maybach created an engine called the "Grandfather Clock" engine and built a two wheeled frame around it. This became the first Otto engined vehicle. Daimler's fourteen year old son Adolf was the first person to ride on this motorized bicycle which is the first internal combustion engined motor vehicle. The 1885 Daimler/Maybach Petroleum Reitwagen (Riding Car) was the first motorcycle (and the first motor vehicle) using an internal combustion engine.

While Deutz continued to produce large stationary engines Daimler moved onto boats, airships, locomotives, autmobiles, trucks, and other transportation uses. Deutz is the world's oldest engine producer. Daimler became Daimler-Benz
Daimler-Benz AG was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motor vehicles, and internal combustion engines; founded in 1926. An Agreement of Mutual Interest - which was valid until year 2000 - was signed on 1 May 1924 between Karl Benz's Benz & Cie., and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, which had...

 is the world's oldest automobile manufacturer.

Daimler-Benz AG was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motor vehicles, and internal combustion engines; founded in 1926. An Agreement of Mutual Interest - which was valid until year 2000 - was signed on 1 May 1924 between Karl Benz's Benz & Cie., and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, which had...

produced this video for the 125th anniversary of the creation of the first motor vehicle which Daimler called the "Petroleum Reitwagen." It used a hot tube ignition specifically because the electrical systems of that era were unreliable. This engine ran on the fuel Ligroin, as did all vehicles until well past the year 1905. Daimler and Maybach founded a company known as Daimler Motorenwerkes Gesellschaftwhich later merged with Benz to form Daimler-Benz, known also as Mercedes-Benz.
The Damiler/Maybach Reitwagen reproduction being run

Today Otto's company Deutz is one of the largest makers of a heavy duty vehicles in the world. Daimler-Benz is one of the largest and most respected makers of luxury automobiles in the world. Virtually all of the world's makers of automobiles produce vehicles using Otto cycle engines which are so ubiquitous as to be referred to as Gasoline Engines.

See also

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.