Could the rotary engine really be making a comeback?

Hybrid vehicles with a rotary powertrain could deliver top-end performance and boost range, say experts

Could the rotary engine really be making a comeback?
Mazda Renesis rotary engine.

Experts at Bath University are conducting research to make the rotary engine comply with current and future emissions regulations and say that when twinned with an electric motor, a rotary powertrain could deliver top-end performance and boost range.

Chris Brace, professor of automotive propulsion and deputy director of the Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre at the University of Bath, said: “Rotary engines have significant advantages over traditional engines in terms of size, weight and ease of packaging in a compact vehicle.”

“The geometry of the rotary engine leads to challenges in achieving the emissions and fuel economy requirements, which is an area where we are active in our research.

“Excellent technology”

“Rotary engines are potentially an excellent technology for plug in hybrid vehicles, which allow fully electric operation in cities combined with long range, grid independence and flexible operation that we need from vehicles designed to have a wide range of roles.”

Rotary engines were originally ditched because they were too dirty and they faced criticism that they burnt excess fuel and oil.

Most recently, Mazda adopted a rotary engine with its renowned Wankel engine which powered the high-revving Mazda RX-8.

The Japanese car maker shelved the technology in 2012 after it failed to meet Euro 5 emissions standards.

Do you believe rotary engine should make a comeback? Leave your comments and experiences below.

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