I'd like to understand more intimately the basics of the wankel engine combustion cycle. What I find interesting is:

  • Simplicity of design

  • Use of ports for intake and exhaust

  • Conversion of energy to torque

I'm not interested in efficiency. I am interested in it's operation.

My Question

  • What are the components involved and phases of combustion in a rotary engine?
  • 1
    I assume you want to go beyond the basics of the 4-stroke cycle?
    – Zaid
    Jan 18, 2016 at 6:01
  • I'm not sure I understand. I'm looking for what is involved in the combustion cycle. Components and what is happening with the gasses. Jan 18, 2016 at 6:06

1 Answer 1


Just like a conventional piston engine with poppet valves (Otto cycle), Wankel engines operate on the four-stroke cycle (suck-squeeze-bang-blow).

This Wikimedia animation succinctly describes it:

Wankel Engine

The rotor seals off the air/fuel intake charge from the intake port, gradually compressing it until it is sufficiently compressed, at which point the spark plug ignites the mixtures, generating rotary motion which then carries the combustion gases towards the exhaust port and out.

Some noteworthy characteristics:

  • look mom, no valves!

    which means no need for cams, camshafts, timing belts, etc.

  • smooth power delivery

    due to the absence of reciprocating motion that is inherent to piston-engines.

  • oil needed for lubrication

    the oil is needed to lubricate the rotor and is mixed with the air/fuel intake charge, so the engine will by design consume oil at a faster rate than a well-designed piston engine.

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