Science: Power Without Pistons

Conventional gasoline engines have a basic fault; their reciprocating parts (pistons, connecting rods, etc.) must be stopped and started thousands of times per minute. This wastes power, and it also calls for a heavy engine to stand up against the battering it gets. Last week NSU Werke motor company of Neckar-sulm, West Germany described a gas engine that has neither pistons nor valves. Invented by a mechanical genius named Felix Wankel, it was developed with financial help from Curtiss-Wright Corp., which provided a fervid earlier announcement of it (TIME, Dec. 7) but no mechanical details.

Instead of cylinders and pistons, the Wankel...