The Wankel rotary engine historically found limited success in automotive applications due in part to poor combustion efficiency and challenges around emissions. This is despite its significant advantages in terms of power density, compactness, vibrationless operation, and reduced parts count in relation to the 4-stroke reciprocating engine, which is now-dominant in the automotive market. A large part of the reason for the poor fuel economy and high hydrocarbon emissions of the Wankel engine is that there is a very significant amount of overlap when the ports are opened and/or closed by the rotor apices (so-called peripheral ports). This paper investigates the benefits of zero overlap from a production engine with this characteristic and the effect of configuring a peripherally-ported Wankel engine in such a manner. As discussed in the paper, arranging this condition for peripherally-ported engines unfortunately reduces the trapped compression and/or expansion ratios significantly, such that when naturally-aspirated operation is simulated, a large reduction in performance ensues.
In order to demonstrate the potential of zero port overlap in Wankel engines with respect to emissions, a 2007 model year Mazda RX-8 was rebuilt, run-in, degreened, and tested on a chassis dynamometer. As standard, the engine in this vehicle is configured with no port overlap through the adoption of side intake and exhaust ports. This testing was performed in order to see subjectively how successful such an approach could be in controlling emissions. The vehicle easily met Euro 5 limits for all criteria emissions and was even better in terms of hydrocarbon emissions versus Euro 6 on the WLTP cycle, giving the lie to the belief that a Wankel engine can no longer meet current automotive emissions targets.
The analytical work reported here studies the result of eliminating overlap on the performance of a peripherally-ported single-rotor Wankel engine using a 1-D model. This was implemented and correlated to the in-production Advanced Innovative Engineering (AIE) UK Ltd 225CS engine used in the UK government-funded ADAPT project. The initial port study focused on advancing and retarding the exhaust and intake port respectively to achieve zero port overlap and then sweeping their zero-overlap positions together around the trochoid housing. The best location for the ports was then identified; this was essentially an “Otto” timing set, with broadly equal compression and expansion ratios. Notwithstanding this, potential performance was found to be severely curtailed, as was to be expected given the marked reduction in trapped compression and/or expansion ratios necessary due to peripheral porting.
Countermeasures to this reduction are discussed. Those that will be studied later in the project will be reported in a later publication.