A major goal of the development of internal combustion (IC) engines continues to be higher performance and efficiencies. A major aspect of achieving higher performance and efficiencies is based on fundamental thermodynamics. Both the first and second laws of thermodynamics provide strategies for and limits to the thermal efficiencies of engines. The current work provides three examples of the insights that thermodynamics provides to the performance and efficiencies of an IC engine. The first example evaluates low heat rejection engine concepts, and, based on thermodynamics, demonstrates the difficulty of this concept for increasing efficiencies. The second example compares and contrasts the thermodynamics associated with external and internal exhaust gas dilution. Finally, the third example starts with a discussion of the Otto cycle analysis and explains why this is an incorrect model for the IC engine. An important thermodynamic property that is responsible for many of the observed effects is specific heat.
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