This chapter provides a brief overview of combustion in spark-ignition engines and compression-ignition, or diesel engines. Although diesel and spark-ignition engines both utilize similar components and the same two- or four-stroke operating cycles, the combustion processes and fuel requirements are completely different. In the following four sections each is discussed, first in terms of fundamental concepts, and then in terms of combustion chamber requirements. The general descriptor “spark-ignition” is used recognizing that the concepts apply to any engine requiring a high-octane fuel and using an electrical spark or equivalent to initiate combustion. This includes not only gasoline (or petrol) engines but also engines fueled with natural gas, propane, an alcohol, or even hydrogen. The terms “diesel” and “compression-ignition” are used interchangeably.
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