How does Wankel Engine work? Function of the Wankel engine? 

The Wankel engine, also known as the rotary engine, stands as a testament to innovative engineering and has played a crucial role in the evolution of automotive technology. Invented by German engineer Felix Wankel in the early 1960s, this unique power plant has found its way into various applications, ranging from automobiles to aircraft. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of the Wankel engine, exploring how it works and its fundamental functions.

Understanding the Wankel Engine:

At its core, the Wankel engine is a type of internal combustion engine that utilizes a rotary design, deviating from the conventional piston-driven engines. The key components of a Wankel crate engine include a triangular rotor that rotates within an epitrochoid-shaped housing. This unique design eliminates the need for reciprocating pistons, offering a compact and lightweight alternative.

How Does it Work?

Intake Phase:

During the intake phase, the rotor moves eccentrically within the housing, creating varying chamber sizes. As the rotor turns, the chamber expands, drawing in the air-fuel mixture.

Compression Phase:

The rotor continues its rotation, compressing the air-fuel mixture within the chamber. This compression is crucial for the subsequent combustion phase.

Combustion Phase:

Spark plugs ignite the compressed air-fuel mixture, generating power to drive the rotor. Unlike conventional engines, the Wankel engine produces a continuous rotary motion, translating into smoother and more consistent power delivery.

Exhaust Phase:

Finally, the exhaust gasses are expelled as the rotor completes its rotation, preparing the engine for the next cycle.


Rotor Movement:

  • The central element of the Wankel engine is the rotor, a three-sided geometric shape similar to a triangle. The rotor is attached to the output shaft and is free to rotate within the housing.
  • The rotor moves in an orbital motion, creating three sealed chambers within the housing. These chambers expand and contract as the rotor moves, facilitating the intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust phases of the engine cycle.

Engine Cycle:

  • The Wankel engine follows a four-stage cycle: intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust.
  • During the intake phase, the rotor moves to create a larger chamber, allowing air and fuel to enter the combustion chamber.
  • As the rotor continues its rotation, the chamber decreases in size, compressing the air-fuel mixture.
  • Combustion occurs when the spark plug ignites the compressed mixture, generating power.
  • Finally, the exhaust phase takes place as the rotor moves to expel the burned gasses from the chamber.

Power Output:

  • The rotational movement of the rotor directly translates into the output shaft’s rotation, producing mechanical power.
  • The absence of reciprocating parts reduces vibration and increases the engine’s overall efficiency.

Advantages of the Wankel Engine:

Compact Design:

The Wankel engine is inherently more compact and lighter than traditional piston engines, making it an ideal choice for applications with space constraints.

Smooth Operation:

The rotary motion of the engine results in smoother and quieter operation compared to piston engines.

High RPM Capability:

Wankel engines can achieve higher revolutions per minute (RPM) without the need for heavy and complex components, contributing to their performance advantages.


The Wankel engine’s innovative design and unique operating principles have carved a niche for it in the automotive and aerospace industries. While challenges such as sealing and fuel efficiency have been associated with this engine type, ongoing research and development continue to refine its performance. As the quest for more efficient and sustainable propulsion systems persists, the Wankel engine remains a fascinating and integral part of the automotive engineering landscape.


What is a Wankel engine?

A: A Wankel engine is a type of internal combustion engine designed by Felix Wankel in the 1950s. It features a unique rotary design with a triangular rotor that rotates within a housing, eliminating the need for traditional pistons.

Q: How does a Wankel engine work?

A: The Wankel engine operates on a rotary principle. The triangular rotor moves within the housing, creating varying chamber sizes. This design allows for intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust phases, resulting in continuous rotary motion for smoother power delivery.

Q: What are the advantages of a Wankel engine?

A: Wankel engines are compact, lightweight, and capable of high RPMs. Their unique design reduces vibrations, offering a smoother driving experience. Additionally, they have a simple structure with fewer moving parts.

Q: What is a Wankel crate engine?

A: A Wankel crate engine is a complete and pre-assembled engine that enthusiasts can easily integrate into various vehicles. It provides a convenient and powerful option for custom projects, simplifying the engine installation process.

Q: Are there advancements in Wankel engine technology?

A: Yes, ongoing research focuses on innovations such as Wankel crate engines, diesel rotary engines, and improvements in rotary combustion technology. These advancements aim to enhance efficiency, reduce emissions, and expand the applications of Wankel engines.

Q: Can a Wankel engine run on diesel?

A: Yes, there are developments in Wankel diesel rotary engines. The efficient combustion characteristics of the Wankel design make it a potential candidate for diesel applications, offering a balance between power and reduced emissions.