The Wankel engine is a type of internal combustion engine using an eccentric rotary design to convert pressure into a rotating motion instead of using reciprocating pistons. Its four-stroke cycle takes place in a space between the inside of an oval-like epitrochoid-shaped housing and a rotor that is similar in shape to a Reuleaux triangle but with sides that are somewhat flatter. The very compact Wankel engine delivers smooth high-rpm power. It is commonly called a rotary engine, though this name applies also to other completely different designs.
The engine was invented by German engineer Felix Wankel. He received his first patent for the engine in 1929, began development in the early 1950s at NSU, completing a working prototype in 1957. NSU then licensed the concept to companies around the world, which have continued to improve the design. It is the only internal combustion engine invented in the twentieth century to go into production.
Thanks to their compact design, Wankel rotary engines have been installed in a variety of vehicles and devices including automobiles, motorcycles, racers, aircraft, go-karts, jet skis, snowmobiles, chain saws, and auxiliary power units.
Famous quotes containing the word engine:
“There is a small steam engine in his brain which not only sets the cerebral mass in motion, but keeps the owner in hot water.”
—Unknown. New York Weekly Mirror (July 5, 1845)