Combustion engines before Otto
Otto was not the first person who tried to build an engine where the force of the combustion would directly push on the piston. In the centuries before Otto's development of the four-stroke combustion engine, many engineers worked on this issue.
Huygen's explosion engine
Christian Huygens, a scientist from the Netherlands, tried already in 1666 to push a piston upward by the explosion of shooting powder. He built an engine that worked like the one you see below.
Unfortunately, the materials could not stand such a big strain yet. Further, an exact processing was a problem. Huygens used for his first attempts a tub of a canon as cylinder. He just did not have the possibility to create such an engine. The development mended the scientists to a combution outside of the cylinder. Papin, a student of Huygens, finally built one of the first steam engines. Nonetheless only many years later, when the classic steam engine worked already in a lot of factories without any competitors, scientists continued to think about Huygens idea with a cumbustion in the cylinder.
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