Will Mazda tame the infamous Rotary engine?
If there’s one thing Mazda are known for with regards to engines it’s the rotary engine. An infamous and innovative design last featured in the RX-8 which was discontinued in 2012. Despite the breath taking RX-Vision concept, Executives have been regularly denying the existence of any new rotary engine developments. However, proof has been found by Autoblog that claims otherwise. Newly filed Patents have been filed by Mazda with the US Patent and trademark office.
The first one describes a range-extender EV on par with the BMW i3, meaning there’s an electric motor driving the front wheels, while out back there’s a gasoline engine providing power to an electric generator. A lithium-ion battery is located in the middle of the vehicle. But it’s the second patent that’s far more interesting. It’s essentially an engine start-stop system specifically designed for rotary engines. Like regular piston engines, the tech shuts down the rotary engine when it’s not needed. But where it gets interesting is that it stops the rotor "in a position that closes the intake port to ensure no fuel or exhaust emissions slip through the intake tract."
Remember, a rotary engine doesn’t have any valves, so this latter step is a must. Also described is the concept of "firing a spark plug after the fuel has been cut to eliminate any leftover fuel emissions." Interesting. This new tech would hopefully improve fuel economy and emissions. Now, here’s where things get even more interesting: that rotary engine start-stop patent is also combined with the range-extender powertrain patent. Think about it. By combining the technologies together, Mazda can, theoretically, still use a rotary engine, only one that’s combined with a start-stop system, an electric motor, and lithium-ion battery.
Due to the smaller dimensions of the Rotary engine, weight is easier to keep in check. No official word has been said from Mazda on the matter but patents for tech like this isn’t don’t for nothing, the future is looking bright for Mazda’s rotary fans.