An internal combustion engine that produces rotary motion directly. Invented by the German engineer Felix Wankel (1902-1988), who completed his first design in 1954, it became widely used in automobiles and airplanes, and continues to be used in various forms today. A triangular rotor with spring-loaded sealing plates at its apexes rotates eccentrically inside a cylinder, while the three combustion chambers formed between the sides of the rotor and the walls of the cylinder successively draw in, compress and ignite a fuel-and-air mixture. The Wankel engine is simpler in principle, more efficient and more powerful weight for weight, but more difficult to cool, than a conventional reciprocating engine.
Related category TECHNOLOGY
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