20B Rotary Engine Specs

Written by daniel r. mueller
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20B Rotary Engine Specs
Wankel engines do not have traditional cylinders or pistons, unlike mainstream engine designs. (car engine image by itsallgood from Fotolia.com)

The Mazda 20B rotary engine belongs to a very rare classification of engines known as Wankel rotary engines. Wankel rotary engines do not have traditional cylinder-and-piston designs. Instead, they operate with a rotating reaction chamber. The Wankel rotary engine has roots that go all the way back to early propeller-driven aviation, and it combines high engine power with a great deal of space reduction, making it a good choice for a sports car motor.

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General Wankel Engine Specifications

A Wankel rotary engine operates using a triangular prism-shaped internal rotating combustion structure. Each face of the prism performs the same function as the cylinder head in a typical engine. Rather than having a simple up-and-down piston movement, the Wankel rotary engine's entire internal structure moves around within the engine block enclosure. Because of the greater mass of the internal moving parts, Wankel engines need to be more securely mounted to the vehicle frame than conventional cylinder/piston engines in order to avoid damage from vibrations.

20B Engine Specifications

The Mazda 20B engine's central triangular reaction surfaces can be removed from the camshaft, a notable change from early types of Wankel engine where the two pieces were fused. This makes for simpler repairs and engine rebuilding. The entire engine block of the Mazda 20B engine can be disassembled into 11 smaller replaceable components, which to some extent addresses mechanic complaints about other manufactures' Wankel engines in terms of finding replacement parts. The modular design makes replacement parts easier to stockpile and simpler to custom-fabricate should the need arise. The 20B engine has a compact design, and retains a high horsepower output at 250 HP stock without enhancements.

20B Engine Successors

Motor Trends Magazine's 2009 article "Mazda RX-7 Dilemma" pointed out the notable absence of a next-generation Mazda rotary-engine sports car. It did, however, showcase a new hybrid minivan powered by a hydrogen-compatible rotary engine. This translates into a possible future for the technology derived from creating and supporting the 20B engine. It also signals a possible future trend in mainstream, family rotary-engine vehicles. Previously, the rotary engine has been reserved for high-performance sports cars, motorcycles and aircraft.

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