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The reciprocating internal combustion engine must be by far the most common form of engine or prime mover. As with most engines, the usual aim is to achieve a high work output with a high efficiency; the means to these ends are developed throughout this book. The term ‘internal combustion engine’ should also include open circuit gas turbine plant where fuel is burnt in a combustion chamber. However, it is normal practice to omit the prefix ‘reciprocating’; none the less this is the key principle that applies to both engines of different types and those utilising different operating principles. The divisions between engine types and between operating principles can be explained more clearly if stratified charge and Wankel-type engines are ignored initially; hence these are not discussed until section 1.4.
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