A cylinder is a circle extended in a third dimension perpendicular to its surface. In the case of engines, it is a void and creates the the space in which a piston travels. The motion of the piston within the walls of the cylinder creates changes in the volume of the combustion chamber. The changing of volume allows for the compression of a combustible air/fuel mixture. When ignited, the compressed charge expands in an exothermic reaction. As the charge is contained by the cylinder walls and cylinder head it transfers all of its power to the piston, through the connecting rod and creates rotational motion in the crankshaft.
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