Understanding engine configuration

The engine configuration outlines the basic operating principles used to classify internal combustion engines. A piston engine’s cylinder configuration, valves, and camshafts are frequently used to classify them. The number of rotors in a given Wankel engine is frequently used to categorize them. Turbojets, turbofans, turboprops, and turboshafts are common categories for gas turbine engines.

An engine can be classified based on its configuration. Most engines that exist work using small controlled explosions to power a vehicle. Well, this method offers greater advantages to its applications over some types. Cylinders in piston engines are often arranged in lines parallel to the crankshaft. When the cylinders are aligned in a single line, the engine is referred to as a straight engine (or “inline engine”).

Each line of cylinders in an engine with two or more lines of cylinders (such as a flat or V engine) is referred to as a “cylinder bank.” The term “bank angle” refers to the angle between the banks of a cylinder. Multiple-bank engines are shorter than straight engines and can be made to balance out the opposing unbalanced forces from each bank to lessen vibration.

Most engines have a straight engine layout if they have four or fewer cylinders, and most engines with eight or more cylinders have a V layout. There are few exceptions to this rule, including the straight-eight engines used in a variety of luxury vehicles between 1919 and 1954, the V4 engines used in some marine outboard motors, the flat-four and V-twin engines found in a variety of automobiles, and the V-twin and flat-twin engines found in motorcycles.

engine configuration

Well, in this article, we’ll be discussing engine configuration. That said, we’ll cover the necessary things you need to know about it. So, stay tuned!


Engine configuration

Knowing the various engine configurations is quite confusing but understanding this article will help you to distinguish. The engines have been classified based on the following stated below:

  • Number of strokes
  • Design
  • Ignition method
  • Number of the cylinders
  • Arrangements of the cylinder
  • Types of fuel used

Based on the number of strokes

Two-stroke engine:

In two-stroke engines, the piston moves twice to produce the power stroke. That is one stroke upward from the BDC to the TDC and the other downward from the TDC to the BDC.

Four-stroke engine:

The piston moves four times in this engine configuration. That is two upward and two downward movements in a single combustion cycle.

Six-stroke engine:

Engines with six-stroke have greater advantages over two and four-stroke as they increase fuel efficiency, reduce mechanical complexity, and reduce emissions. These engines are divided into two groups based on the number of pistons that contribute to the six strokes.

In the single-piston designs, the engine captures the heat lost from the four-stroke m or Diesel cycle and uses it to drive an additional power and exhaust stroke of the piston in the same cylinder in an attempt to improve fuel efficiency and assist with engine cooling.

Based on design

Reciprocating engine:

Reciprocating engines have one or more pistons, helping to convert pressure into a rotating motion. The pistons are placed inside the cylinders, resulting in gas combustion when fuel and air are ignited.

Wankel engine:

The Wankel engine is known as a rotor engine, as it converts pressure into a rotating motion. It is mostly found in racing cars, and It works using an eccentric rotary system. This engine configuration is simpler, smoother, and more compact. It produces more power pulses per revolution.

Diagram of engine configuration

Based on the ignition method

Compression ignition engine:

These engine configurations do not work with a spark plug but obtain its ignition from the compressed air. A diesel engine is a good example of this engine due to the fact that it works by compressing air.

The compression ignition engine offers great advantages as it reduces parasitic load on the engine and higher thermodynamic efficiency.

Spark ignition engine:

This engine configuration uses a spark plug in order to ignite the compressed air-fuel mixture. A petrol engine is a good example of this type of engine as it can only run on bioethanol, methanol, hydrogen, etc.

Based on the number of cylinders

Single-cylinder engine:

A single-cylinder engine is known for its lightweight, compact, and outstanding weight-to-power ratio. It consists of a single-cylinder connected to the crankshaft. It is often found on motorscooters, motorcycles, go-karts, and dirt bikes.

Double-cylinder engine:

Just as it is being named, it consists of a two-cylinder, which is also connected to the crankshaft just like the single-cylinder engine.

Multiple-cylinder engine:

These engine configurations are designed to achieve higher revolutions per minute (RPM) without struggling and offer excellent ability to neutralize imbalances. Multiple-cylinder engines have more than two cylinders. It can be either three, four, six, twelve, or sixteen. Good examples of this engine are either compression or spark ignition engine, 2-stroke or 4-stroke engine.

Based on the arrangements of the cylinder

Vertical engine:

In these engine configurations, the arrangements of the cylinders are vertical.

Horizontal engine:

The cylinders are horizontally arranged.


The pistons are aligned with the cylinders in two banks. It shows a V shape when viewed from the top. The purpose of the V shape is to prevent vibration and balancing issues.

W-type engine:

The W engine configuration is made for 16 and 12-cylinder engines. The cylinders are arranged in 3 rows, forming a W shape.

Opposed cylinder engine:

Engines with opposed cylinders have excellent balancing and run smoothly because the connecting rod and the piston run identically. The cylinders are placed in opposite directions.

Based on the types of fuel used

Diesel engine:

Diesel serves as the main source of power

Petrol engine:

It uses petrol and air during the combustion cycle


That is all for this post, where the various engine configuration is being explained. I hope you got a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share it with other students. Thanks for reading, see you next time!

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