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The term spark-ignition engine refers to internal combustion engines, generally petrol engines, where the combustion process of the air-fuel mixture is ignited by a spark from a spark plug. This is in contrast to compression-ignition engines, typically diesel engines, where the heat generated from compression together with the injection of fuel is enough to initiate the combustion process, without needing any external spark.
Spark-ignition engines are commonly referred to as "gasoline engines" in America, and "petrol engines" in Britain and the rest of the world. However, these terms are not preferred, since spark-ignition engines can (and increasingly are) run on fuels other than petrol/gasoline, such as autogas (LPG), methanol, ethanol, bioethanol, compressed natural gas (CNG), hydrogen, and (in drag racing) nitromethane.
The working cycle of both spark-ignition and compression-ignition engines may be either two-stroke or four-stroke.
A four-stroke spark-ignition engine is an Otto cycle engine. It consists of following four strokes: suction or intake stroke, compression stroke, expansion or power stroke, exhaust stroke. Each stroke consists of 180 degree rotation of crankshaft rotation and hence a four-stroke cycle is completed through 720 degree of crank rotation. Thus for one complete cycle there is only one power stroke while the crankshaft turns by two revolutions.