Wankel engine

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Wankel engine:

see internal-combustion engineinternal-combustion engine,
one in which combustion of the fuel takes place in a confined space, producing expanding gases that are used directly to provide mechanical power.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Wankel Engine


a rotary-piston internal-combustion engine whose design was developed in 1957 by F. Wankel (Federal Republic of Germany), an engineer. A special feature of the engine is the use of a turning rotor (piston) mounted in a casing whose surface has the shape of an epitrochoid. The shaft-mounted rotor is rigidly joined to a gear that meshes with a stationary pinion. The rotor and gear rotate around the piston. During rotation the rotor apexes slide along the epitrochoidal surface of the casing and cut off the variable volumes of the chambers in the casing. Such a design makes it possible to achieve a four-stroke cycle without the use of a special gas distribution device. Sealing of the chambers is provided by radial and face sealing vanes, which are pressed to the cylinder by centrifugal force, gas pressure, and band springs. Carburetion, ignition, lubrication, cooling, and starting are basically similar to the ordinary piston-type internal-combustion engine.

Trihedral-rotor engines with a pinion and gear radius ratio of r:R = 2:3 have found practical application in automobiles, boats, and so on.

The weight and dimensions of the Wankel engine are two to three times less than a corresponding conventional internal-combustion engine system with equivalent horsepower. Wankel engines are being manufactured in the Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, and the USA.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wankel engine

[′väŋ·kəl ‚en·jən]
(mechanical engineering)
An eccentric-rotor-type internal combustion engine with only two primary moving parts, the rotor and the eccentric shaft; the rotor moves in one direction around the trochoidal chamber containing peripheral intake and exhaust ports. Also known as rotary-combustion engine.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.