In what’s been hailed as UK automotive first, a British-made Westfield sports car powered by a single rotary engine took to the test track at Millbrook last week (14 – 15 September).
According to the UK firm behind the engine – Lichfield-based Advanced Innovative Engineering (UK) Ltd – the demonstration marked the first time a rotary engine has been demonstrated on a British built car.
The firm claims that its specially developed 650S powertrain improves fuel efficiency whilst delivering an impressive 120bhp performance.
Rotary engines have long been viewed as attractive for lightweight sports cars because of their relatively high power to weight ratio and smooth performance, but high fuel consumption has hindered uptake of the technology and made it an unlikely candidate for low carbon powertrains.
However, AIE claims to have overcome previous drawbacks of the engine through the development of a patented cooling concept called SPARCS (Self-Pressurising-Air Rotor Cooling System) which it claims provides superior heat rejection and efficient thermal balancing to increase efficiency over other oil and air-cooled rotary engines.
What’s more, the engine occupies less than 50% of the engine area volume and boasts a 50% reduction in overall weight from a standard four-cylinder engine.
The development is the result of a collaborative project – aimed at developing a high performance low carbon vehicle – funded by the Niche Vehicle Network, an independent association of over 400 niche vehicle companies that is supported by the government.
Commenting on the engine’s track debut AIE Managing Director, Nathan Bailey 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.”