Micor Technologies’ engineers have a long and successful tenure in the development and marketing of Wankel engines starting from the dawn of the world-wide validation of this disruptive technology and to the present.
Under an exclusive agreement with WankelSupertec GmbH, Micor Technologies is marketing the company’s Wankel engine technology in North America (U.S., Canada and Mexico).
The WankelSupertec’s engine technology DNA is intertwined with the genial work of Felix Wankel, the world celebrated inventor and father of this technology. The history of Wankel engine development is reach and many famous companies, large and small, with their prestigious engineers and enthusiastic help from Academia and Government Agencies have contributed to the advancement of the Wankel engine technology. The short narrative here will focus mainly on the link between the work done today at WankelSupertec and of that seeded by Felix Wankel.
Felix Wankel’s company Wankel GmbH partnered with NSU a prestigious car company of that era, and have created in 1957 the first practical application of the new engine technology.
The NSU’s Spider car and its successor Ro80 powered by Wankel engines created a shock wave throughout the propulsion technology world by featuring for the first time in a practical application the Wankel engine’s simplicity and promise for a very affordable cost. Immediately after the day-view of the Wankel engine, numerous engine and car manufacturers around the world secured licenses from Wankel GmbH and added the new engine to their development activities. However, the initial enthusiasm was short lived due to difficulties encountered in solving Wankel engine’s “childhood diseases”, mainly the rotor sealing early failure and higher fuel consumption and emissions when compared to the conventional reciprocating piston engine. While these technology shortcomings were either totally cured like in the case of the rotor sealing or significantly improved like the fuel economy and emissions only few companies continued the engine development in the modern era.
However, the few companies which continued the Wankel engine development have contributed to steady progress and created, in partnership with Academia, a wealth of technical data on the technology.
Felix Wankel’s fundamental work and his legacy on rotary engine technology continued in Germany by his key technical staff led by Dankwart Eiermann, Felix Wankel’s technical right hand. These extraordinarily skilled engineers formed Wankel R&D GmbH and continue vigorously the development of multi-fuel, medium size rotary engines and small rotary compressors based on Wankel principle. Most of the Wankel R&D engine technology gains were transitioned by Dankwart Eiermann and his staff to WankeSupertec GmbH, formed in Cottbus, Germany in early 2000 by Professor Ernst Sigmund.
The Wankel engine development continued also in U.S. and Japan. In U.S., Curtis Wright’s engine division and its successor RPI starting with a license from Wankel GmbH have developed a family of large rotary engines, in the 500-3,000 HP range for military applications running on JP 8, Army’s standard single-fuel for forward operations .In addition, with NASA help, the company designed and tested a medium size family of engines in the 200-400 HP range for recreational aircraft propulsion, running on Jet fuel and for power generation applications running on Natural Gaz. The company made a commendable effort to advance the rotary engine technology and significant progress was made on heavy fuel and gaseous fuel combustion in rotary engines. However, these developments did not go beyond the prototype phase and in early 2000’s the company exited the rotary engine development.
More recently the Wankel engine technology development has continued in U.S. and U.K. In U.S. at L3 Technologies based on a license from WankelSupertec, and in U.K., independently, at Advanced Innovative Engineering LTD and UEL Lichfield.
In Japan, Mazda armed with a license from Wankel GmbH has contributed the most to the development of gasoline fueled Wankel engines for car applications. The company’s sustained development effort, which continues today, has cured one by one all the engine’s shortcomings. Several very well received sports car models such as Mazda 7 and Mazda 8 went in production, and the company’s cars powered by four-rotor engines have won in 1991, for the first time ,in a spectacular manner, the prestigious Le Mans 24-hour race car competition, the world oldest active sports car race in endurance racing. All three Mazda cars finished the race, placing first, sixth and eighth overall which by itself was another milestone for the rotary engine. The after-race inspection reportedly claimed that the winning engine was in such a good condition it could have run another 24-hour race. In the following year, 1992, the race rules change effectively banned rotary engines from Le Mans.
By winning decisively this race which is deservedly called the “Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency” Mazda answered once for all the remaining questions on the rotary engine reliability.
Work on rotary engines continue at Mazda today with great promise of Skyactive combustion technology as well as the development of a smaller engine for range-extender application running on gasoline and Hydrogen.
WankelSupertec continues today the development and market introduction of two families of multi-fuel Wankel engines in the 50-250 HP power range with focus on multi-fuel applications for power generation, hybrid-electric drive for ground vehicles, marine outboard and small aircraft propulsion.
Micor Technologies is promoting these WankelSupertec applications as well as new ones such as Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) for small-medium aircrafts, including VTOL, STOL and UAV as the market opportunities evolve, focusing on the technology’s unique features of high-power density and truly multi-fuel capabilities.