Understanding Wankel (Rotary) Engines and How They Work

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The engine is the key to a vehicle, the presence of an engine will greatly affect the vehicle. Both the energy expended and also the selling price. The engine value will be a major determining factor for someone in determining their dream car.

Engines in vehicles consist of various types of designs, the most common of which is an internal combustion engine in the form of a cylindrical hole (reciprocating engine) which contains a piston. In 1 engine there are usually 4, 6 or 8 cylinders. The more cylinders there are, the greater the capacity (CC) of the engine. This type of machine is still dominant and is still maintained today. 

A. Understanding Wankel (Rotary) Engines

Apart from cylinder type engines, another type of engine is the Wankel engine or often also referred to as a rotary engine. In shape, the rotary type engine is much different from the cylindrical bore type engine. A rotary engine or Wankel engine is a type of internal combustion engine that uses a spark plug as a fuel burner. In its working mechanism, the crankshaft ( Crankshaft ) remains stationary working on its axis, while what rotates is the triangular rotor. Unlike cylindrical engines, rotary engines have an arrangement of cylinders that move around a fixed crankshaft.

Rotary engines use fuel as combustion to rotate a triangular rotor around a main axis. This type of engine is considered more stable and very smooth compared to the cylinder bore type. The inventor of this machine is DR. Felix Wankel, he invented one of the most popular types of rotary engines. This engine was chosen by Mazda as the engine to drive its production cars which are known to be strong and tough.

Currently, Wankel engines are rarely used in new cars, even if they exist, perhaps only from the Mazda brand. One of the reasons why Wankel engines are rarely used is the poor level of toxins in the exhaust gas. This is because the lubrication method for the crankshaft in the combustion chamber still uses a spray model, like a 2 stroke engine .

However, several reports say that Mazda is not remaining silent about this deficiency and is still continuing to improve the weaknesses of the Wankel engine so that it can be used again in the future.

B. Functions of Wankel Engine Components 

1. Intake Manifold functions as an inlet for the air and fuel mixture.

2. The exhaust manifold functions as a channel for removing combustion residue that occurs in the combustion chamber.

3. The stator housing functions as a housing for the rotor to rotate.

4. Chambers function as a space for the work process to occur at each step.

5. Pinion functions as a place for the crown gear to rotate.

6. The function of the rotor is to suck in the fuel mixture, compress and remove the remaining combustion gases and distribute power to the crankshaft.

7. The function of the crown gear is to transmit rotational power from the rotor to the crankshaft (eccentric shaft).

8. The function of the eccentric shaft is to receive rotational power from the rotor which is transmitted to the fly wheel.

9. The spark plug functions to burn the air and fuel mixture that has gone through a compression step.

C. How a Wankel Engine Works

The way a Wakel engine works is simpler than a cylinder engine. In one full rotation of the crankshaft, 1 working stroke will be produced, consisting of suction, compression, combustion and exhaust strokes.

C. How a Wankel Engine Works

The way a Wakel engine works is simpler than a cylinder engine. In one full rotation of the crankshaft, 1 working stroke will be produced, consisting of suction, compression, combustion and exhaust strokes.

Of course, this is more efficient than a 4-stroke engine which requires 2 crankshaft revolutions to produce 1 working stroke. This is the reason why Wankel engines have several advantages over piston engines, such as in terms of construction which is more compact, lighter, and produces greater power with the same cubic size (CC) or even smaller than piston engines.

D. Advantages and Disadvantages 

  • It is smaller in size, lighter in weight, and more compact than a reciprocating engine.
  • Cheaper and simpler in construction so it is easy to mass produce in a relatively faster time
  • The absence of many components such as in reciprocating engines such as connecting rods , camshafts , and valve mechanisms, etc.
  • Work balance is better maintained, this is because there are fewer parts
  • High volumetric efficiency (usually more than 100%)
  • High power to weight ratio
  • Low operational costs
  • No need for overdrive because the engine speed itself is very high

  • High fuel consumption at low speeds
  • Lower torque value
  • Higher engine oil consumption
  • The engine braking effect is very small
  • Speed ​​reduction in the gearbox is necessary due to the high engine speed
  • Faster spark plug replacement frequency
  • Bad oil seal problem in older designs

That is our explanation regarding the meaning of a Wankel engine or rotary engine and how it works. 


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