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an internal-combustion engine in which the energy of the combustion gases is converted into mechanical energy by means of a rotor that undergoes rotary or rotary-reciprocating motion relative to the body of the engine. The concept of the rotary engine, also called the rotary-piston engine, was first proposed in the 16th century, and several thousand patents for rotary engines have been registered. The first attempt to construct a working model of a rotary engine was in 1799, but the first practical rotary engine—the Wankel engine—only appeared in 1957.
In operation, the combustion chamber is formed by the surfaces of a rotor and the chamber walls; the volume of the chamber varies in a periodic manner as the cycles of compression and expansion of the working fluid are continuously repeated. Thus, rotary engines can have the same two-stroke and four-stroke operations characteristic of internal-combustion piston engines.
Modern rotary engines are produced with one, two, or three working sections—that is, one, two or three rotors, respectively, are located on a common eccentric shaft.
REFERENCESKhanin, N. S., and S. B. Chistozvonov. Avtomobil’nye rotorno-porshnevye dvigateli. Moscow, 1964.
Mototsikl: Teoriia, konstruktsiia, raschet. Moscow, 1971.
L. M. SHUGUROV
rotary engine[′rōd·ə·rē ′en·jən]
Internal combustion engine that duplicates in some fashion the intermittent cycle of the piston engine, consisting of the intake-compression-power-exhaust cycle, wherein the form of the power output is directly rotational.
Four general categories of rotary engines can be considered: (1) cat-and-mouse (or scissor) engines, which are analogs of the reciprocating piston engine, except that the pistons travel in a circular path; (2) eccentric-rotor engines, wherein motion is imparted to a shaft by a principal rotating part, or rotor, that is eccentric to the shaft; (3) multiple-rotor engines, which are based on simple rotary motion of two or more rotors; and (4) revolving-block engines, which combine reciprocating piston and rotary motion. See Automobile, Combustion chamber, Diesel engine, Gas turbine, Internal combustion engine, Otto cycle