Ultra-light rotary engine makes 160bhp and weighs 15kg!

A new type of rotary petrol engine is claimed to make 160bhp despite weighing in at a featherweight 15kg!


AN American start-up firm is reigniting the rotary engine concept, after revealing a modular system that has massive power output while being extremely lightweight.

The engine has been developed by Astron, and it’s called the Omega 1 turbine engine. The idea of a rotary engine is nothing new, Felix Wankel was messing with the idea in the 1930s, although to this date the idea is still a bit of an oddity in the two and four-wheeled world.

One of the issues with rotary power is working out how to seal the rotor to the outer edge of the engine casing, a problem that Astron seems to have overcome. Astron also claims the new design is massively more efficient than a conventional petrol engine, thanks to no reciprocating parts and vastly lower parasitic losses.

The secret to the engine is that it separates the four strokes of a combustion engine – suck, squeeze, bang, blow – and splits the cycle into two separate chambers. In total, the engine features four rotors, one pair on the front end taking care of the intake and compression strokes, the other pair on the back end taking care of combustion and exhaust. Between the two sets of rotors is a rotary disc valve, a bit like a rotary valve two-stroke engine, and a pre-chamber.

Another efficiency-boosting tool is the ability for the engine to skip fire once a cruising speed has been maintained. It enables the engine to fire every rotation while a vehicle is accelerating, but once cruising speed is attained, the engine will only fire when there is a need, (every five, ten, or fifty rotations). When the engine requires a bit more shove, the computer will increase the firing rate for nearly instant power with very low amounts of throttle lag. The system can even be tuned for maximum efficiency, maximum power, or a combination depending on the desired application.

Could the Astron Omega 1 make it into a motorcycle?

At the moment, the Omega 1 is only being aimed at the automotive and aerospace sectors, although with its lightweight and other-worldly power and efficiency, it is sure to be raising some eyebrows in the two-wheeled world.

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