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Analyzing the Usage of Wankel Engine Technology in Future Automotive Powertrains
ISSN: 2640-642X, e-ISSN: 2640-6438
Published August 04, 2023 by SAE International in United States
Citation: Mittal, V., Shah, R., and Przyborowski, A., "Analyzing the Usage of Wankel Engine Technology in Future Automotive Powertrains," SAE J. STEEP 5(2):2024, https://doi.org/10.4271/13-05-02-0009.
The Wankel engine is an eccentric rotary internal combustion engine known for its simplicity, compactness, reliability, and efficiency. However, issues related to sealing, efficiency, and emissions have hindered its widespread use. Recent advancements in sealing technology, novel designs, material coatings, and alternative fuels have addressed some of these problems, leading to improvements in Wankel engine performance. This study examines these advancements in Wankel engine technology and proposes three potential applications for future automotive use. The first application involves utilizing a Wankel engine with a continuously variable transmission to replace the powertrain in conventional vehicles. The second application suggests replacing the engine in a series-parallel electric-hybrid architecture with a Wankel engine. Lastly, the third application explores using a Wankel engine as a range extender for electric vehicles. To evaluate the benefits in terms of fuel consumption for different drive cycles, each of these applications was modeled using the Future Automotive System Technology Simulator (FASTSim). The models were assessed with both standard Wankel engines and those incorporating recent advancements. The results indicate a potential reduction in fuel consumption when utilizing improved Wankel engine designs compared to traditional piston-based engines. However, it should be noted that these improved Wankel engines still face significant challenges regarding hydrocarbon emissions. Furthermore, the study identified a promising application for Wankel engines as range extenders in electric vehicles, suggesting their potential to enhance the overall efficiency of electric transportation.