Control-Oriented Modelling of a Wankel Rotary Engine: A Synthesis Approach of State Space and Neural Networks

Anthony Siming Chen*, Giovanni Vorraro, Matthew Turner, Reza Islam, Guido Herrmann, Stuart Burgess, Chris Brace, James Turner, Nathan Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The use of Wankel rotary engines as a range extender has been recognised as an appealing method to enhance the performance of Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV). They are effective alternatives to conventional reciprocating piston engines due to their considerable merits such as lightness, compactness, and higher power-to-weight ratio. However, further improvements on Wankel engines in terms of fuel economy and emissions are still needed. The objective of this work is to investigate the engine modelling methodology that is particularly suitable for the theoretical studies on Wankel engine dynamics and new control development. In this paper, control-oriented models are developed for a 225CS Wankel rotary engine produced by Advanced Innovative Engineering (AIE) UK Ltd. Through a synthesis approach that involves State Space (SS) principles and the artificial Neural Networks (NN), the Wankel engine models are derived by leveraging both first-principle knowledge and engine test data. We first re-investigate the classical physics-based Mean Value Engine Model (MVEM). It consists of differential equations mixed with empirical static maps, which are inherently nonlinear and coupled. Therefore, we derive a SS formulation which introduces a compact control-oriented structure with low computational demand. It avoids the cumbersome structure of the MVEM and can further facilitate the advanced modern control design. On the other hand, via black-box system identification techniques, we compare the different NN architectures that are suitable for engine modelling using time-series test data: 1) the Multi-Layer Perceptron (MLP) feedforward network; 2) the Elman recurrent network; 3) the Nonlinear AutoRegressive with eXogenous inputs (NARX) recurrent network. The NN models overall tend to achieve higher accuracy than the MVEM and the SS model and do not require a priori knowledge of the underlying physics of the engine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSAE Technical Papers
Issue numberApril
StatePublished - Apr 14 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventSAE 2020 World Congress Experience, WCX 2020 - Detroit, United States
Duration: Apr 21 2020Apr 23 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Pollution
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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