Was Wankel engine better than a Piston Engine? (Wankel VS Piston)

Wankel’s engine, a revolutionary engine was invented by a German Mechanical Engineer ‘Felix Heinrich Wankel’.

He was born in Germany on 13th August 1902 in Lahr. It was his basic idea of an internal combustion gasoline engine and he was only 17years old at the time of the invention.

He also received his first patent for his invention of this engine in 1929, also his development of working prototype began in 1950 at NSU and got completed in 1957. It was developed as an alternate engine to the piston.

As we all know, how the piston engine works, it has more moving parts compared to a Wankel engine, due to which a strong vibration is felt, in this case, Felix had only one motive that is to make an engine that has less vibration as compared to a piston engine.

Wankel’s engine is also known as the Rotary engine. A rotary engine lacked many of the major parts that you would find in a conventional piston engine, Fuel and air are pushed into the spaces between the sides and wall of the rotor and the barrel where ignition takes place.

The fast process of ignition results in generating power. The main motive of the making rotor engine was to fulfill all the tasks of the piston engine but with fewer moving parts, therefore making it lighter and smaller than a piston engine displacement.

If compared to a piston engine rotary engine requires only one crankshaft revolution to complete its cycle similar to a two-piston engine.

People don’t recommend and suggest a rotary engine as it lacked fuel efficiency/economy and unburnt fuel in the chambers. The rotary engine also had few problems with sealing the combustion chambers as it occurred only in one portion of the engine. Due to this issue, they had low thermal efficiency.              

In terms of producing horsepower, it packed a punch. Piston Engine is no match, in order to beat rotary engine, piston engine had to have twice the size of the rotary engine

 For example, a rotary engine of Mazda Rx-13B which is the only 1.3-liter engine has an output of 232 horsepower, equivalent to a 6.0 liter LS2 Corvette engine producing 1068 horsepower.

So in terms of performance beating a Wankel’s rotary engine is too tough for a piston engine. Carmakers liked the smoothness of the rotary engine.

Car enthusiasts love Wankel’s engine because of its power delivery as it punches linearly all the way from 7000 to 8000 rpm depending on the specific engine displacement. Which is quite more as compared to a piston engine.

Another reason for all the Mechanics and engineers to love this engine is because it was a simple design with no Fan Belt, no Camshaft, no Timing Belt no Rocker Arms, etc.

Due to these disadvantages, it lacked production in the market. Rotary is the engine that was also most renowned for its screaming sound at low rpm.

Car lovers and enthusiasts are a big fan of this engine model. ‘Mazda 787B’had won Le Mans race in 1991 and that engine model had only four rotors which produced 700 horsepower from the 2.6-liter engine.

In fact, it was even capable of making 930 horsepower at 10500 rpm without any forced induction from the same 2.6-liter engine. It was also famous for its F1 like screaming sound with four rotor layout.

Quick Sneak speak of Rotary Engine on action:

Wankel (Rotary) engine in action

The rotary engine is still a reputation for indulging mainly in sports cars. As long as the rumors of rotary engine revival endure, it will be only a dream to drive this quirky engine again.  The main cause of death of this engine was the fuel economy which was terrible, the emission was poor, very low thermal efficiency resulting in long combustion chambers and unburnt fuel remaining in the chambers. Due to such reason the rotary engine was discontinued.

We still miss the rotary engine and its sound, I hope the rotary engine model is still under the researcher’s radar to make it more efficient.

We will still leave it for you to decide on which one is better? We think the choice is clearly between Fuel Efficiency VS Power.

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Wankel V S Piston
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