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A pistonless rotary engine is an internal combustion engine that does not use pistons in the way a reciprocating engine does, but instead uses one or more rotors, sometimes called rotary pistons. An example of a pistonless rotary engine is the Wankel engine.
The term rotary combustion engine has been suggested[by whom?] as an alternative name for these engines to distinguish them from early (generally up to the early 1920s) aircraft engines and motorcycle engines also known as rotary engines. However, both continue to be called rotary engines and only the context determines which type is meant.
The basic concept of a pistonless rotary engine avoids the reciprocating motion of the piston with its inherent vibration and rotational-speed-related mechanical stress. As of 2006[update] the Wankel engine is the only successful pistonless rotary engine, but many similar concepts have been proposed and are under various stages of development. Examples of rotary engines include:
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