Engine Environmental Issue

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Describe engine environmental issues here

Environmental Impact

  • Positive
    • Innovative engine configurations have led to a new prototype which would increase fuel economy and lower emissions. Mr. Howell-Smith, the Chairman, Inventor and CAD Designer for Revetec, said that “if [the engine] uses 50% less fuel given that it has the same top end as a conventional engine, emissions would be reduced by 50% if the bottom end was utilized.”



  • Negative
    • With the large focus on decreasing emissions for automobile engines, many people neglected to think about the effects of small engines. Now with such strict regulations on automobile engines, the negative impacts of smaller engines are becoming more visible.


Created by Team Anonymous

Thank You, Internal-Combustion Engine, for Cleaning up the Environment

The internal combustion engine has been scrutinized for years for harming human health and deteriorating the environment with the release of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). But, to disprove everyone that has doubts, studies have been done to prove the environmental benefits of the internal combustion engine. According to an article written by Dwight R. Lee [3], livestock is responsible for 18% of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than automobiles and planes. The internal combustion engine began replacing horses for a source of power in the early 1900s, which started replacing the outputs from animals with exhaust from tailpipes. A Nobel Prize-winning economic historian, Robert Fogel, stated that the 200,000 horses in New York in 1900 caused everyone to breath in pulverized horse manure, a much worse pollutant than exhaust from the internal combustion engine. Also, with the introduction of the internal combustion engine, diseases such as cholera, typhoid, typhus, yellow fever, and diphtheria started declining. Most of this was due to the reduced production of animal waste. The internal combustion engine should not be considered something that does not cause pollution, but compared to the times without it, it is a much better alternative.

Created by Team Care Bear Stare

Negative Effect on the Environment

During the running of an internal combustion engine,incomplete combustion occurs which leaves harmful byproducts behind. One of the harmful pollutants that is emitted during this process is particulate matter, which has been known to cause asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, and premature death in both humans and animals. Other pollutants of the combustion process include nitrogen oxides, benzene, and carbon monoxide.


Created by Vishnu Anantha Team Care Bear Stare

Internal Combustion Engines Reduce their Effects on the Environment

In 1975,internal combustion engines reduced the amount of pollution they produced, and hence had a positive effect on the environment, by incorporating a catalytic converter into their design. A catalytic converter converts harmful pollutants into less harmful ones using catalysts that break up molecules into simpler forms that are commonly found in nature. For example, the reaction 2NO => N2 + O2 or 2NO2 => N2 + 2O2 takes harmful 2NO and breaks it into the naturally occurring N2 and O2. The converter accomplishes these reactions using platinum and palladium as catalysts to break down complex molecules.

Information from http://auto.howstuffworks.com/catalytic-converter.htm

Team Crankshaft, Nathan Roll

The Internal Combustion Engines Negative Effect on the Environment

The Internal Combustion Engine greatly increased the need for gasoline which has, in turn, negatively impacted the environment. In 1919, before the internal combustion engine was widely used in automobiles, less than 3 billion gallons of gasoline were consumed in the United States. After the internal combustion engine was widely accepted as the main method for powering automobiles the need for gasoline increased exponentially. In 1929 15 billion gallons of gasoline were consumed in a year, by 1955 the annual consumption was approximately 46.5 billion gallons, and in 2002 more than 135 billion gallons of fuel were consumed. A large environmental impact of the internal combustion engine comes from the use of so much oil.

In drilling for "Black Gold" there was a lot of waste and unnecessary damage to the environment. The drilling and refining of the oil was very harmful for the environment as it polluted the land, air, and water near the drilling site. Drain offs from the drilling would be allowed the soak into the ground around the site which poisoned the earth, and spillage was also a frequent occurence which meant even more oil was allowed the penetrate the earth which would prevent plans from growing. When the plants could not grow it breaks the food chain, drastically changing the wildlife in that area.

Not only is the drilling for oil dangerous, but transporting it also has the potential to harm the environment. An oil spill in the ocean is dangerous to all of the animals in the area, as well as harming the beaches near the spill. When the Supertanker Torrey Canyon ran aground off the coast of England it spilled 120,000 tons of crude oil into the ocean doing untold damage to the wildlife.

The need for oil would not have existed if the internal combustion engine had not been so popular at powering automobiles and other machines. The internal combustion engine was a driving force behind the need for oil, and this need caused the oil industry to start up quickly and without regulations to protect the environment.

Information from : [5]

Created by Timothy Jacomb-Hood of Team "Team"

Population Control-Positive

Bare with me. At first there are not any immediate positive statements that can be said about the internal combustion engine when discussing the environment. However, in the many states the deer population goes through massive spikes every year. If it were not for the engine and then the automobile the deer population would be overwhelming. The massive amount of deer, and other wildlife, causes negative effects on the ecosystem. Crops are eaten, lesser creatures cannot find food and die, and residential properties can be damaged. Though there are negative aspects as well, such as injury to the driver, the positive is that it is an unintended, beneficial way of monitoring the deer population. In addition, on an economic note, this event creates jobs for people to clean up roadkill.

created by Jared Neri Team Team

If it was not internal combustion - positive effect of internal combustion

What if the world decided to continue with steam engine or electric motor? In a short term, it seems like that the air will be cleaner and fresher. However, don't forget the downfall of those other engines. Steam engine has to burn wood or coal in order to run, and batteries from electric cars contain heavy metals such as cadmium, lead-acid, nickel and lithium. And even if considering electric cars does not emit air pollution, still about 70% of electricity in America is generated from coal and natural gas power plant. If steam engine was kept using, we would have had bigger problem with not having much green left on the Earth with billions of cars running on the road. If we would have had kept using electric cars without modern battery technology, our landfills could have been filled with disease-causing heavy metals, causing mutants in nature. Lucky, we invented internal combustion which is more environmentally friendly.

created by Yoon Tak Kim of CrankShaft

Speed encourages pollution

As technology grows, it allows humans to push the limits in every aspect. Regarding the internal combustion engine, it allows people to go fast, and attracts the act of going faster and faster. NASCAR is a prime example of people achieving great speeds. Unfortunately, it also has a negative environmental impact.

NASCAR cars use 110 octane racing fuel [6], and typically get 5 miles per gallon. Also, there are no EPA regulations on these cars, so the emissions aren't controlled, but the car can go faster. There are around 40 racers, each traveling a distance up to 500 miles. NASCAR estimates that a typical race weekend uses 6,000 gallons of racing fuel. Each gallon of gas that is burned will emit around 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. If there is 35 races per year, NASCAR alone emits 4 million pounds of carbon dioxide. According to howstuffworks.com, "The energy expended in one race could power more than three houses or drive seven cars for a whole year."

NASCAR provides entertainment for many, however, it also produces harmful emissions and uses up resources. NASCAR is arguably a negative impact to the environment, and it is made possible thanks to the internal combustion engine.


created by Eric Do of Team CrankShaft

Positive Effects of the Internal Combustion Engine - Movement Away from Steam Power

The internal combustion engine, as it grew in popularity, was able to beat out one of its main competitors, the steam car. This had an overall positive effect on the environment because of the shortcomings of the steam car’s systems. In order for the water fueling the steam car to be converted to steam and create the needed pressure, it needed to be heated. The most successful steam car in this aspect was the Doble Steam Car, which used kerosene to heat the water. At peak efficiency, the Doble could run at 15 miles per gallon of kerosene. Unfortunately, kerosene gives of harmful emissions, such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide [8]. Though the internal combustion engine also gave off harmful emissions, the steam engine was only 5-8% efficient, while internal combustion was 25-28% efficient. This means that the steam engine would have to be using more kerosene over time than the internal combustion engine would be using gasoline or diesel, thus be giving off more pollutants. Thus, society’s movement toward internal combustion has aided in the protection of the environment. [9]

Created by Abbey Frost of Team Table 3

Negative Effects of the Internal Combustion Engine - Greenhouse Effects

The internal combustion engine has positively affected the way we travel today. However, it is having a negative effect on the environment; one way is by contributing to the Greenhouse effect. Certain gases in the atmosphere, mainly carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorocarbons, act like the glass in a greenhouse, allowing sunlight through to heat the Earth's surface but trapping some of the heat as it radiates back into space. Unfortunately, internal combustion engines are contributors to this environmental problem. The exhaust emitted by internal combustion engines contain many harmful chemicals including greenhouse gases nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. Like several of these gases, carbon monoxide occurs naturally in our atmosphere at around 0.1 ppm, but car exhaust without a catalytic converter contains 7,000 parts per million [10]. Some inventions and regulations have greatly decreased the amount of harmful gases cars produce but nevertheless these gases are harming the ozone and environment as a whole.[11]

Created by Lauren Ray of Team Table 3

Negative Effects of the Internal Combustion Engine - Movement Away from Electric Power

Imagine if today the streets were lined with millions upon millions of quiet, efficient electric cars. This could easily have been a reality had it not been for the success of the internal combustion engine. Even at their introduction electric engines were quiet, efficient, simple to operate and required very little maintenance. If electric cars had become more affordable then today it is very likely that we would not be facing many of the problems that we are today, from oil shortages to air pollution. The downfall of the electric engine came from it's excessive price. Most of the manufacturers of electric cars viewed their products as luxury vehicles, and built them with much more expensive materials. By 1910 the average price of an electric car was $3000 while a gas powered car cost only $650 thanks to Henry Ford's development of mass production. Had the manufacturers of electric cars focused more on bringing down the cost of their vehicles in order to compete with the internal combustion engine we would not be facing any of the environmental, social, or global problems caused by our dependence on the internal combustion engine and the fossil fuels that they need.


Created by Patrick Vargo of Team Team

Negative Effects of the Internal Combustion Engine - The Harms of the Catalytic Converter

Ever since the catalytic converter's debut in 1975, they have been praised for reduced carbon monoxide emissions and helping reduce environmental pollution from the internal combustion engine. While the catalytic converter has surely helped prevent carbon monoxide emissions, the device has impacted many other aspects of the environment. Converters require both specific fuel and a specific temperature range to prevent catalytic poisoning and meltdown, both prevent the reaction between the catalyst and the carbon monoxide. While converters do remove toxic carbon monoxide, they still release carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas harmful for the environment, and converters also output nitrous oxide, another cause of global warming that is more than 300 times more potent then carbon dioxide. [13] Catalytic converters also require palladium or platinum, both rare metals, to function. Mining these precious ores has caused the Russian city of Norilsk to become one of the most polluted cities on the planet. [14]

Created by Team Spark Plug

Positive- Laser Sparks Revolution To Increase Efficiency

There is now a new innovation being taken place that could decrease pollutants and increase efficiency of internal combustion engines: laser sparks. Right now, conventional spark plugs are contributing to the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are key constituents of smog. We could greatly decrease the amount of nitrogen oxides that are produced from combustion if the engine burnt less fuel and more air. This is where the lasers come in. They will use a higher-energy, concentrated, optical beam to ignite the air fuel mixture. These lasers will also significantly increase efficiency. By focusing the beams directly on the air-fuel mixture, it will ignite the fluid three times faster than normal spark plugs. And with lasers, we could also ignite the mixture in two places at the same time. This speed will make the timing more precise, therefore increasing the efficiency of the combustion and better the fuel economy. I understand that these laser spark internal combustion engines are not yet being manufactured, but this proves a promising advancement in the environmental impact of the internal combustion engine.

Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110420125502.htm

Created By Kyle Harmon of Team Spark Plug

Indirect Environmental Impact Resulting From Use of The Internal Combustion Engine

While many of the effects the internal combustion engine imposes on the environment around it, there are many forms of pollution that are not commonly thought of in relation to these engines, despite their involvement. These indirect effects inhibit many aspects of the environment, including visibility, the cleanliness of the air, and, in older cars, the health of those around them.

One such indirect effect is the generation of airborne particulates - while this is not directly attributed to the internal combustion engine (these were produced by horses, cows, construction, and other things as well), the dramatic increase of airborne particulates in the last century has been strongly linked with the internal combustion engine due to it's popularity and ease of access. As America exited World War II, a concept was formed, commonly referred to as 'The American Dream', in which one has one's own house, yard, well-paying job, family, and, of course, a car, powered by an internal combustion engine. This ideal, which has permeated through every layer of society, increased the demand for cars and shifted the ideal form of travel from the shared space of a bus, train, or boat, to the privacy of the car, which currently dominates much of American travel. This individualized type of travel leads to a large number of cars on the road, which produce dust, debris, and other small airborne particles known as particulates. These particulates, being lightweight and easily moved, float on air currents for long periods of time, from days, to weeks, months, and sometimes years, as wind is nearly a constant in many areas of the U.S.. Once airborne, the particulates affect not only visibility, but other aspects as well, including the function of machinery - the air cleaner/filter on the internal combustion is placed on the engine to remove these particulates before the air continues on to the cylinder to be used in combustion.

Another, more direct form of pollution produced by cars and other motor vehicles is smog. Smog is a molecular compound formed from nitrous oxide (NOx) and volatile compounds that were not combusted in the engine, such as unused gasoline. As the engine emits the VOCs, (Volatile Organic Compounds) sunlight acts as a catalyst to combine it with the NOx. This creates a thick layer of what could be described as an alternative ozone layer, blocking sunlight and absorbing it. This compound is most often found in cities, such as New York and Detroit, and is most visible on warm days, as smog is reactive to light and heat. While the cleanliness of the air is affected, the most noticeable effect is that upon visibility, specifically a dramatic decrease in the maximum range perceived by the eye, as the smog obstructs all the lies behind or within it. It also has environmental harms associated with it, most notably its ability to retain heat, warming the area it occupies.

Information from: http://www.ifc.org/ifcext/enviro.nsf/AttachmentsByTitle/p_ppah_pguiAirborneParticularMatter/$FILE/HandbookAirborneParticularMatter.pdf

Created By Corey Pratt of Team Flinger Dinger

Team Eight


One positive environmental impact that has come from internal combustion engines is the years of experience that have evolved the engine to what it is today. This can be seen in the problem of knocking within the engine. Knocking is the violent shaking of the engine which causes excessive wear on the engine and limits its output power. Over the years, a multitude of options were tried to reduce knocking but the problem was many of these additions to the fuel had complications to the public’s health. One of the fuel additions that is changing the composition to reduce the knocking was tetraethyl lead but this fuel turned out to be deadly because the tiny particles that were emitted could enter the blood stream which decreased mental capacity. This lead to the advancement in stronger measures checking on these octane number boosters and strict laws were put into place to increase the awareness of what was actually in the emissions. The stronger actions being taken into consideration are the positive environmental implications being put into internal combustion engines today.


Although the internal combustion engine has evolved to be more efficient, it is still emitting pollutants such as carbon dioxide, Nox, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and other VOC’s into the atmosphere. Once in the atmosphere, these chemicals in conjunction with warm temperatures and sunlight can cause smog, and regional haze. Not only is this bad for visibility issues, but these pollutants can cover small particles, smaller then 1 micron, which can then enter the bloodstream of a human being. This can eventually cause disease or even death of the person. So not only does the pollution that is emitted through an internal combustion engine hurt the environment, but can also be a cause of disease and death in humans.

Source : EGEE 101 Dr Matthews Class. Engineering and The Environment. Lesson 4 “Transportation” and Lesson 8 “Look Out: Smog” [[15]]