In a piston engine, the flywheel stores rotational energy that enables the piston to return to its original position. In this example model of a piston engine, we will use Mathematica animations to show how the rotational energy is continuously stored and used.
The Piston Engine Model
The piston engine is modeled in the Planar Mechanics
library using only revolute and prismatic joints, making it a completely planar model. The flywheel has an initial angular velocity of -2.5 rad/s in order to demonstrate the movement of the engine.
The bottom‐left animation shows the system from a two‐dimensional point of view. The bottom‐right animation shows the same system, but in three dimensions. In other words, we have taken a completely planar model and used Mathematica graphics to illustrate it in a higher dimension. The top plot illustrates how the stored rotational energy changes as the piston moves.