Getting from A to B quickly has become very important to everyday life. Few of us could probably imagine spending an average week without getting in a vehicle of some kind be it a bus or a car. Cars are essential to modern life yet how often do you think about how one actually works. Most of us don't consider what's under the bonnet until we break down!

The internal combustion engine has revolutionized the way we live so, how does it work? Understanding the engine draws together ideas from areas of engineering, physics and chemistry. The following pages introduce most of the main ideas.

There are many claims about who invented the internal combustion engine but Nikolaus Otto is generally accepted as the main pioneer. He worked with Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. They first described the four stroke engine in 1876.

(image of Otto, taken, without permission from