This document reviews the history of free-piston internal combustion engines, from the air compressors and gas generators used in the mid-20th century through to recent free-piston hydraulic engines and linear electric generators. Unique features of the free-piston engine are presented and their effects on engine operation are discussed, along with potential advantages and disadvantages compared to conventional engines. The paper focuses mainly on developed engines where operational data has been reported. Finally, the potential of the free-piston engine is evaluated and the most promising designs identified. Key words: free-piston, linear engine. 1
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