Invention of the Combustion Engine

After many years of trial and error, a combination of inventors and engineers developed a practical, effective internal combustion engine that greatly affected the world. This paper will give opposing views on the background and analyze the effects it had on transportation and the environment.

The invention of the internal combustion engine sprouted from the work of several engineers and inventors across Europe and into America. First, in 1859, Jean-Joseph Etienne Lenoir developed the first practical internal combustion engine which after many modifications and changes, led to the modern engine that plays a crucial role in today’s society.

Prior to Lenoir, external combustion engines such as the steam engine and early hydrogen engine were all that existed. Etienne Lenoir’s 1859 invention proposed a two-cycle, one-cylinder engine that ran on “illuminating gas.” Mainly used for powering lamps and small trinkets, Etienne Lenoir’s engine was never able to power a carriage to transport people.

Nearing 1882, Wilhelm Maybach and Gottlieb Daimler, German inventers, forged a partnership to invent an improved internal combustion engine. In 1885, the combination patented a four-stroke engine. Soon after, the duo attached the engine to a bicycle and a carriage, designing some of the world’s first, motorized vehicles. Later in 1890, several more inventions were made to improve Maybach’s initial engine design.

As a director for the newly formed Daimler Motor Company, Maybach developed the world’s first float-feed carburetor which revolutionized the motor by allowing the use of gasoline as a fuel. At the same time as Maybach’s mechanism, large deposits of oil were beginning to be discovered making gasoline very available and the cost of a family owning a car practical. Overall, the invention of the internal combustion engine took many years and a series of modifications to get today’s modern engine, but it led to a boom in transportation.

The invention of the internal combustion engine revolutionized transportation and the economy as the automobile replaced the steam powered train as the primary method of travel and trade. Due to its long period as the primary form of transportation around the world, steam engine advocates and employees may have opposed the transformation into the age of the automobile. The transformation started in 1885 with Karl Benz, a German engineer, after Maybach and Daimler had refined the internal combustion engine.

Benz had developed the first practical car powered by Maybach’s model. Benz’s car, the Motorwagon, had only three, but it was the beginning of the revolution from the steam powered engine. Next, Henry Ford developed a system of manufacturing where he could mass produce the automobile using an assembly line. In the early 1900’s, Ford, using his efficient manufacturing process, made the car available to the public, and by 1914, Ford’s new car, the Model T, sold for $490. By 1920, the new way of manufacturing automobiles substantially lowered the prices to ¼ of the original costs of a car.

The car began to be a necessity for every American family. As the government began building highway systems and more interaction occurred, the automobile powered by the internal combustion engine became far superior to the steam powered trains. In 1880, a few years before the coming of the automobile, there were 93,000 miles of railroad throughout the United States. The trains, powered by the steam engine that could haul a massive load, were lauded as the best and most powerful way to transport goods long distances. This network of railroads and the trains that used them required many people to keep them properly functioning.

Due to a lower demand of the steam engine and the availability to newer technology, the work for these people began to diminish. Losing jobs may have turned ex-train employees against the transformation in technology, but in time, they would realize the great benefits from the automobile. Although the steam engine was still used for shipping goods, the automobile, allowing people to travel much more easily, brought a new outlook on life. The automobile became a link to individual freedom and mobility.

With the automobile, came one of the most widely used technologies in the world, the invention of the internal combustion engine which has left a noticeable impact on many parts of today’s world. One of the most widely debated and controversial topics having to do with the automobile is its effect on the environment.

Al Gore, former United States Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize award winner, has spent many years trying to argue the negative effects that the internal combustion engine leaves on our planet. In his presidential campaign in 2000, he preached the ideas of a cleaner environment and better ways of living.He said, “When we seek to artificially enhance our capacity to acquire what we need from the earth, we do so at the direct expense of the earth’s ability to provide naturally what we are seeking.

We frequently ignore the impact of our technological alchemy on natural processes. When we manufacture millions of internal combustion engines and automate the conversion of oxygen to CO2, we interfere with the earth’s ability to cleanse itself of the impurities that are normally removed from the atmosphere.”

He has led many people to believe that the automobile of today is leaving a terrible and lasting effect on the earth’s atmosphere, and that it is one of the primary causes of the term “Global Warming.” Although Gore has had a giant following and has changed the opinions about automobiles in thousands of Americans, “Global Warming” is controversial and many car industries and scientists have argued against it.

Because of this argument, many people have decided to find other forms of transportations or use a car running on electricity rather than gasoline such as the Toyota prius, Nissan leaf, and Chevy volt. Since America, responsible for 20% of green house gases produced worldwide, uses 1/3 of the oil produced in the world, driving a car that runs on electricity would be a good idea.

Now efforts for creating a safer and cleaner planet are being discussed as a result of argument against the combustion engine and its negative effects on the planet. Agreeing with the positive view on the internal combustion engine, most find that society’s dependence on the automobile and internal combustion is necessary. Those heading this argument are the multibillion dollar businesses that supply work to thousands of people and still produce the primary form of transportation.

Today, around 250 million cars are used in the United States and almost all of them are powered by the internal combustion engine making it very important in our way of life. Stopping the use of the combustion engine to make our planet greener would be an extremely difficult and nearly impossible task. Major players such as Ford and General Motors have been on a decline in the past years and have had to shut down more than a dozen American plants and cut 60,000 jobs.

To the people working for these companies and those working for the companies supported by Ford and General Motors, the “Global Warming” claims may have cost them their jobs. The very recent rise in these companies has shown a spark in the employment and has created jobs for thousands. Also, with the millions of cars being driven in the United States, billions of gallons of oil are used to power them every year.

The oil industry is one of the largest industries in the world, and stopping the use of gasoline in engines would have major effects. Those against the use of the oil could agree with the “Global Warming” enthusiasts and fight for the health of our planet. Opposite to them are the people who whose jobs are created by this market.

Contrary to thousands of people believing that these companies and cars are destroying the planet, we need these companies to create jobs and to sustain American transportation. After learning about the background of the invention, and its early impact, in society, I agree more with the transportation. Jean-Joseph Etienne developed the first design of the internal combustion engine and Wilhelm Maybach modified it to run on gasoline.

The automobile, invented by Karl Benz and made accessible by Henry Ford, became the much needed new form of transportation for society. Although many people lost their jobs, due to the downfall of the steam powered locomotive, many jobs were creative and a new freedom of travel was produced. In addition, to the fall of the steam powered engine, the effect to the environment has been debated widely around the United States. I agree with the idea that we, United States Citizens, should look to go “greener” and create a more environmentally friendly transportation network, but it is going to take many years.

I do however think that automobile industry is an important cog in our economy and that it provides countless jobs to people indirectly and directly all around the country. In addition to its role in our economy, I agree that the automobile powered by the internal combustion engine, allows today’s society to have a freedom of easy travel to where they need to go. I came to these conclusions by showing in my paper two opposing viewpoints on the topic of “The Invention of the Internal Combustion Engine” and siding with the better opinions.