German engineer Felix Wankel

German engineer Felix Wankel

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Felix Wankel (1902-88), German engineer & inventor of the Wankel rotary combustion engine, at work at his drawing board. Wankel was born in the Black Forest in Germany, the son of a ranger. He never attended university, but showed an early flair for engineering mathematics and an obsessive interest in vehicle propulsion. After World War II, during which he was held prisoner by the French, he designed a novel type of internal combustion engine in which the piston rotates about an axis within a chamber, rather than oscillating up and down in a cylinder as in conventional engines. Although a radical innovation, the Wankel engine remains to be fully exploited by industry.

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Keywords: engine, engineer, felix, felix wankel, inventor, portraits, rotary engine, surname w, wankel

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