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A dynamometer or "dyno" for short, is a device for measuring force, moment of force (torque), or power. For example, the power produced by an engine, motor or other rotating prime mover can be calculated by simultaneously measuring torque and rotational speed (rpm).

A dynamometer can also be used to determine the torque and power required to operate a driven machine such as a pump. In that case, a motoring or driving dynamometer is used. A dynamometer that is designed to be driven is called an absorption or passive dynamometer. A dynamometer that can either drive or absorb is called a universal or active dynamometer.

In addition to being used to determine the torque or power characteristics of a machine under test (MUT), dynamometers are employed in a number of other roles. In standard emissions testing cycles such as those defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), dynamometers are used to provide simulated road loading of either the engine (using an engine dynamometer) or full powertrain (using a chassis dynamometer). In fact, beyond simple power and torque measurements, dynamometers can be used as part of a testbed for a variety of engine development activities such as the calibration of engine management controllers, detailed investigations into combustion behavior and tribology.

How dynamometers are used for engine testing

Dynamometers are useful in the development and refinement of modern day engine technology. The concept is to use a dyno to measure and compare power transfer at different points on a vehicle, thus allowing the engine or drivetrain to be modified to get more efficient power transfer. For example, if an engine dyno shows that a particular engine achieves 400 Nm (300 lbfft) of torque, and a chassis dynamo shows only 350 Nm (260 lbfft), one would know to look to the drivetrain for the major improvements. Dynamometers are typically very expensive pieces of equipment, reserved for certain fields that rely on them for a particular purpose.

Source: Wikipedia (Dynamometer)
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chassis dynamometer
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chassis dynamometer