This week the 2016 Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle Event saw a world first for British Engineering firm “Advanced Innovative Engineering” (AIE) as they debuted the first ever British-made sports car successfully powered by a single rotor rotary engine.
The ground-breaking low carbon rotary engine was integrated within a popular British open-top Westfield Sportscar. The new engine design delivers 120bhp, and was paces around the ride and drive test track at Millbrook Proving Ground.
The engine is a result of collaborative Niche Vehicle Network project and is intended to develop a high-performance low carbon vehicle. AIE’s rotary engine is specifically designed to improve fuel efficiency and environmental performance.
While the history of the rotary engine means it isn’t often seen as a fuel efficient option, AIE wanted to showcase capabilities of their latest generation of 650S rotary engines. These utilise SPARCS (Self-Pressurising-Air Rotor Cooling System), an innovative cooling concept invented by Norton Rotary Engine specialist David Garside, that allows superior heat rejection and efficient thermal balancing to reduce wear.
SPARCS is an interesting cooling system that utilises self-pressurising blow by gases from the combustion process (these are gases which have escaped into the interior of the engine’s core via the rotor’s side seals) as a cooling medium. Because the SPARCS system is completely sealed, the oil loss to atmosphere typical of air cooled rotary engines is completely eliminated.
The 650S engine produces a stunning amount of power from a small, compact and easy-to-integrate unit
Nathan Bailey, AIE Managing Direction said “it was definitely a milestone moment to watch our 650S make history as the first single rotor engine to power a British sports car around the track. AIE have once again proven that through advanced technology and precision engineering, rotary engines can deliver innovative solutions as lightweight, efficient powertrains within the automotive industry”.
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The new engine design occupies less than 50% of a traditional engine area volume and boasts a 50% reduction in overall weight. The engine can deliver an impressive 120bhp, while using less fuel and reducing the vehicle’s emissions.
The next steps for AIE are to improve the engine’s efficiency further. However, the company hope that the interest generated at Cenex this year will play a role in the future of next generation rotary engines and help reignite excitement in the once coveted technology.