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How the rotary engine works


You’re a master of all things LS. You completely understand the Ford FE big blocks. Those Honda B16 engines are no match for your knowledge base. At their core, these engines all behave the same way. Air and fuel enter the combustion chamber and the pistons and crankshaft work to turn that into power. Now you’re facing a rotary engine…so tell me what the heck that rounded off triangle is doing, and how it makes the vehicle go.

If you understand the very basics of the internal combustion engine, you have a leg up when it comes time to unlock the mysteries of the Wankel. The rotary engine works on the same principals as the standard piston-based engine, but it does so in a different manner. Engineering Explained is here to walk us all through exactly what’s going on under the hood when a rotary is involved.

DON’T MISS: Four reasons why the rotary engine is currently dead

After explaining how it all works, EE goes on to explain the benefits that such a setup provides. This includes a small amount of moving parts, the ability to rev high, and an inherent smoothness thanks to the balance within the engine. Also, it’s a compact setup, so it’s easy to fit under any hood.

Now, there are also some downsides and the most notable would be fuel consumption and oil consumption. This is a thirsty motor since it’s not as efficient at burning off all of the fuel dumped into the combustion chamber. Additionally, the parts that rotate in the rotary engine need proper lubrication and that means a whole bunch of oil is required.

If you’re curious about what happens when you twist the key on a rotary-powered vehicle, make sure you hit play and watch the video above.

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