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Mazda’s rotary engine is making a comeback

By FaezClutchless on 12 Mar 2012

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Mazda rotary engines are a type of combustion engine that was derived from German engineer, Felix Wankel’s experiments in the early 1960s. The company’s rotary engines are well known for being relatively small and powerful but they have poor fuel efficiency.

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And Mazda has struggled in making their rotary engines relevant in today’s environmental conditions, with regards to automotive technology. But Mazda believes that they have an answer in making the rotary engine cleaner and more efficient than before.

Before I continue with the news, let’s talk a little more about the difference between rotary engines and a normal engine.

A normal engine has a set of cylinders that goes up and down against one another on a shared crank and a rotary does not work like that. Rotary engines have a trochoid (a curve traced by a point on or connected with a circle as the circle rolls along a fixed straight line) housing where a small triangular shaped rotary pivots on a central point, compressing gasses that push it around in a circle. The benefit to such an engine is its compact size and light weight relative to its power output.

And because the inside of the trochoid housing must remain flush for the rotary to rotate, the spark plugs which cause the explosions that move the rotary must be pushed farther back. That means that there’s a need for a bigger explosion, which uses more gas and creates a greater amount of emissions.

Mazda’s engineers believe that the have found a way to make the rotary engine more cleaner and more in-line with traditional piston engines by redesigning the trochoid housing for better airflow. They also plans to seal the engine in a better way because, at low speeds, rotary engines have the tendency to leak gas from one chamber into another and this results into an uneven burn and greater emissions.

Mazda’s engineer, Mitsuo Hitomi, mentioned that they can’t exactly say how the problem is going to be addressed. But the rotary’s spark plug is a recessed position compared to a piston engine and this caused ignition problems and increases fuel consumption. And they have found a way to make dramatic improvements.

Photo credit: Net Car Show and wallpaper4me.com

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Written by FaezClutchless
Some say that his blood is actually RON98 petrol and some say that his right foot weighs over 20kg. But all that we know about Faez is that he loves to drive and is a JDM enthusiast.

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