Rotary engine

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The rotary engine was an early type of internal-combustion engine, usually designed with an odd number of cylinders per row in a radial configuration, in which the crankshaft remained stationary and the entire cylinder block rotated around it. Its main application was in aviation, although it also saw use in a few early motorcycles and cars.

This type of engine was widely used as an alternative to conventional In-line or V engines during World War I and the years immediately preceding that conflict, and has been described as "a very efficient solution to the problems of power output, weight, and reliability".[1]

By the early 1920s, however, the inherent limitations of this type of engine had rendered it obsolete, with the power output increasingly going into overcoming the air-resistance of the spinning engine itself. Another factor it its demise was the fundamentally inefficient use of fuel and lubricating oil caused in part by the need for the fuel/air mixture to be aspirated through the hollow crankshaft and crankcase.

Contents

Description

A rotary engine is essentially a standard Otto cycle engine, but instead of having a fixed cylinder block with rotating crankshaft as with a conventional radial engine, the crankshaft remains stationary and the entire cylinder block rotates around it. In the most common form, the crankshaft was fixed solidly to an aircraft frame, and the propeller simply bolted onto the front of the crankcase.

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