How Does a Rotary Engine Work?


Quick Answer

A rotary engine is a combustion engine that uses differing gas volumes that are pressurized by a triangular rotor inside a central chamber. The triangular rotor moves around the chamber, causing the three gas pockets to contract and expand, drawing both fuel and air into the engine to generate power.

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Full Answer

The rotor moves around a chamber using a path that keeps each of its three ends in contact with the surface of the chamber. This ensures that each section of gas is separate and maintains different levels of pressure. The first model of the rotary engine was developed by Dr. Felix Wankel.

A basic rotary engine is designed with fuel-delivery and ignition systems. The rotor at the center of the engine is made up of three convex faces and is set with a pocket at the center. This space increases the engine's displacement as it creates more space for air and fuel to mix.

The rotor is placed inside an oval-shaped housing that is separated into three chambers by the rotor. The housing itself is made up of an intake and exhaust port in the inside, coolant passageways between the inner and outer casing and spark plugs that connect it to the car.

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