The Wankel type rotary engine was considered the perfect engine when it was first demonstrated in the 1960’s. Almost every automotive company worldwide began a program to bring it into volume production. This was also true of the aircraft and boating industry where Curtiss-Wright acquired a worldwide exclusive right for its use in aircraft and an exclusive North American right for its use in automobiles. General Motors paid Curtiss-Wright $250 million to initiate its use in their automobile. Outboard Marine Corporation spent nearly $300 million developing snowmobile and outboard motor models for their respective markets.
Only later was it determined that while the rotary engine was ideal with regard to cost, power, weight, size, and freedom from vibration it used more fuel than the best four-stroke piston engines. The rotary engine did have much lower fuel consumption and emissions than the two-stroke engines used in outboards, snowmobiles, all terrain vehicles, and hand-held power tools, but for these products, emissions only became an issue in the late 1990’s and fuel economy only recently.
Moller International acquired the rotary engine assets of OMC in the mid 1980’s and those of Infinite Engine Company in the late 1990’s. Together with a corporate investment of over $30 million the Company developed engines of various power levels from 1hp to 300hp. A number of patented improvements were incorporated that led to much improved seal life, better fuel economy, lower emissions, and better lubrication. However, fuel consumption remained higher than the best four-stroke piston engines because the engine combustion chamber geometry slows down the combustion process. As a result a considerable amount of energy remains in the exhaust gases in the form of elevated pressure and temperature. Adding a turbo charger can recover some of this energy by super charging the intake, but even with its use considerable energy remains in the engine exhaust gases. The Company has developed and is patenting a relatively simple engine configuration that removes 90% of this exhaust energy as usable power. As a consequence fuel consumption is expected to reduce by over 30% making the Company’s compound Rotapower engine’s fuel consumption competitive with a turbo charged diesel engine, but with a much lower cost, weight, size, vibration, and emissions.
With the rising cost of fuel the automotive industry needs cars with much reduced fuel consumption while maintaining the “kick in the pants” acceleration demanded by many auto buyers. Only the hybrid automobile can deliver both along with an acceptable range.
Because the hybrid car has a number of additional components including battery, electric motor, and large generator the space available for the engine is substantially reduced. For example, the Lexus GS 450 hybrid has a very small trunk in order to accommodate the battery. The Rotapower engine occupies 27% of the volume of a four-stroke piston engine and weighs about one-third as much.
In much of the world two-stroke engines dominate the transportation and utility market. Over 40 million two-stroke engines are produced each year in China, India, and the Asian countries primarily for transportation. The high pollution levels resulting from their use has compromised the public respiratory health in many areas and as a result two-stroke engines are scheduled for total elimination within the next five years. The Company’s Rotapower engine demonstrated in the presence of members of the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California, Davis that it met California’s Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) standards using gasoline as the fuel. Recent tests showed that using ethanol allowed the Rotapower engine to meet California’s Super-Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) standards, which is below ambient conditions in many US cities.
The four-stroke piston engine is an expensive alternative to the two-stroke piston engine, which has .92% less moving parts. OMC showed that their rotary engine could be manufactured for the same price as their two-stroke engines since it has even fewer moving parts than the two-stroke engine. This indicates that the Rotapower engine could be volume produced at approximately one-half the cost of the four-stroke piston engine.
The Company does not plan to manufacture rotary engines, but has made and will continue to make licensee agreements to produce engines for various original equipment manufacturers including the automotive industry.
Rotary Engine Assets Owned by Freedom Motors:
1. In 1985 the Company acquired the rotary engine production rights and intellectual property (IP) for the snowmobile rotary engine developed by Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC). This is the only rotary engine in the world to be put into volume production besides that of Mazda. This engine was very successful in this application but OMC decided to get out of the snowmobile business.
2. In 1992 the Company acquired the rotary engine assets of Rotary Engine Technologies (RET), a Canadian company that had licensed the rights to develop rotary engines from Wankel GMBH in Germany. RET had also purchased the hard rotary engine parts inventory from OMC for their snowmobile engine production (No IP).
3. In 1997 the Company acquired the rotary engine assets of Infinite Engine Company a public company licensed by OMC to produce their 650cc/1300cc outboard rotary engine. (Estimated OMC development cost ~$150 million). This engine had been production ready at OMC and was scheduled to enter production if emission standards began to be enforced on their 2-stroke engines. Since this did not happen it never entered volume production.
4. The Company acquired the rotary engine production equipment developed by Gleason Machine Works for General Motors (development cost ~$45 million). This is the only rotary engine equipment designed for volume production in the world besides that at Mazda. The Company has expended approximately $35 million developing or perfecting four displacement engines (27cc, 150cc, 530cc and 650cc). The 650cc is available in a twin rotor 1300cc while the 530cc is available in five different displacements (530cc, 1060cc, 1590cc, 2120cc, 3180cc).
5. The Company has a extensive inventory of parts for the four different displacements it developed.