The Advantages and Disadvantages of Rotary Engines

Rotary engines are internal combustion engines with chambers that change in size as the rotor rotates. This type of engine also has an odd number of cylinders per row that are radially configured. More than that, rotary engines are considered to be one of the most notable advances in engine technology. However, there are several advantages and disadvantages one must consider when looking to switch to a rotary engine or browsing vehicle options with this type of engine.

First, it is important to understand some of the rotary engine’s fundamental characteristics that set it apart from other engine types. To begin, rotary engines do not have pistons, and instead, they carry out compression and ignition in a single rotation. Moreover, rotary engines feature a triangular rotor rotation system that completes its tasks in one motion.

Simple in design, rotary engines consist of a small number of moving parts as compared to its piston engine counterpart while still offering ample power. For example, the 13B-MSP Renesis is a 1.3 liter rotary engine that produces as much power as a Corvette with a 6.0 liter piston engine. In more technical terms, the 13B-MSP Renesis produces 232 horsepower which is comparable to the 1068 horsepower of the Corvette.

One of the rotary engine’s main advantages is its immunity to catastrophic failure. A piston motor, on the other hand, is more likely to seize, causing damage to the entire assembly. In contrast, a rotary motor may lose power, but at a slower rate, providing enough power to complete its tasks until it dies.

While rotary engines offer increased power, they do come with some disadvantages. One of the major disadvantages is the fact that rotary engines have low gas mileage and burn large amounts of oil. Part of the reason for this is that rotary engines are designed to mix a small quantity of oil with gas, ensuring lubrication within the seals. With regard to mileage, most rotary engines achieve an average of 25 miles per gallon, though some claim it is much less. Additionally, they cannot run on diesel due to their design.

The next major disadvantage is sourced from the various components that make up rotary engines. It is important to note that rotaries are recognized for their ability to generate as much torque as a screwdriver and seals can produce problems in colder regions. Similarly, rotaries may have a problem flooding the assembly with fuel on cold starts, thus, the motor must warm up to operating temperature before take off.

One must also consider the cost of repairs and acquiring aviation replacement parts. Parts tend to be expensive and few dealers are certified to fix rotary engines. As such, performing routine checks on your engine can ensure your operations run smoothly. In the case that an engine component is damaged and must be replaced, you need to find a reputable distributor that you can rely on for quality parts.

If you find yourself in need of rotary or piston engines, or other related parts, you can count on Aviation Orbit to have everything you need. Aviation Orbit is an online distributor that provides customers from all industry verticals unparalleled access to over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items, all of which can be narrowed down by manufacturer, NSN, part number, and more. Browse our vast listings and find what you need with ease.


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