Rotary Engine

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Svetlozar Simeonov


Wankel Rotary Engine – Huge Power in a Small Box

According to Philip’s Encyclopedia Wankel rotary engine or just Wankel engine is “Internal combustion engine with rotors instead of pistons.” That not so popular engine is actually about two times lighter than a four cylinder piston engine, the one that we all have in our cars, for the same power output. It also has four times less moving parts. Much simpler, much lighter, much smaller it has numerous advantages over a conventional piston engine.

One of the most simple and clear explanation of how the Wankel engine works oppose to piston engine comes from Time magazine: “Instead of converting up-and-down piston motion into wheel-driving circular energy through a series of complex linkages—the way a standard engine works—the Wankel rotors spin continuously and thus provide the proper torque to move a car's wheels directly.” (Time Aug 14 1972). It has four times less moving parts versus four cylinder engine. Therefore, Wankel engines “are smaller, peppier and potentially cheaper to build than conventional reciprocating models, and have only six major points of wear, v. 100 in a conventional engine” (Time Aug 14 1972).

The Wankel engine was reviled in 1956 by its engineer Felix Wankel (The Columbia Encyclopedia – internal-combustion engine). The first mass production car powered by Wankel engine was released in 1967 by the Japanese manufacture Mazda. It was a reference design, twin –rotor 982cc, outputting 110 hp. That made the 2000 pounds Cosmo model pretty zippy. Mazda quickly introduced 2 more models in 1970 and with prices significantly lower than its competition Mazda’s success rapidly increased. Seeing the growing interest, 2 of the largest automobile manufactures in the world– General Motors and Mercedes-Benz – purchased license to produce vehicle with this technology. General Motors even had a Corvette on the way, when the 1973 oil crisis changed...
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