Above: Lenoir gas engine. By Johannes Maximilian - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0. Top: Illustratrion of Lenoir's Hippomobile.
Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir, Belgian engineer and inventor of the first commercially successful internal combustion engine, was born on this day in 1822. There had been internal combustion engines patented as early as 1807, but Lenoir's 1858 version demonstrated the feasibility of such a power plant. Prior to building what became the Lenoir engine, he worked extensively in electrical experimentation.
Using his knowledge of electricity, Lenoir refined the internal combustion engine, using a jumping spark ignition system. The sparks ignited a mixture coal gas and oxygen inside a one cylinder steam engine converted to burn gaseous fuel. The de...