Bánki, Donát

(Budapest, November 2nd, 1905 – London, January 20th, 1985)

Bánki, Donát

He was a qualified mechanical engineer, a versatile and creative personality at the time of the turn of the 19th – 20th century.

He completed secondary school in Budapest, and later obtained a degree as a mechanical engineer at the József Technical. University Web link

In 1880, his study on gas engines won the 100-florin award of the university, contributed to the international recognition of Hungarian industry, as it was published in German as well. He was a graduating student when became assistant to the Department of Mechanics.

Next year the young engineer was employed as constructor at the Hungarian Royal State Railway Machine Works, then he worked at the Ganz and Co. Iron Casting and Machine Works for almost 17 years. He started his factory career as a designer, and finished it as an engineer-in-chief. Here he designed his first significant invention, the dynamometer, and a cereal elevator serving to unload the corn supplies arriving on the Danube at the railway station in Ferencváros.

He solved this task so excellent, that András Mechwart, the general manager of the factory, entrusted him to develop his own invention, the rotary plough. Bánki modified the plough into a steam-engine driven device, which was a new solution at the time.

In 1899, he became a Professor at the Department of Machine Construction at the Technical University, where previously he had become closely acquainted with János Csonka.

Their cooperation resulted in several patents:

They made known the principle of the first petrol carburettor in their patent entitled “Innovations on petroleum engines”.

Donát Bánki constructed a motorcycle with two cylinders and patented his internal high-pressure combustion engine, which was named the Bánki-engine. Its basis was the recognition that the higher compression, which improves efficiency, involves a higher temperature, which causes self-ignition and Bánki prevented the latter by water injection.

The Bánki-engine was awarded a prize at the World Exposition in Paris in 1900.

In 1903, he applied for a patent for a pump valve; and in 1905, he delivered a lecture on the theory of the steam turbine at a Congress in Liege. In 1917, he presented the well-known Bánki-turbine.

During the years when he was professor at the Technical University, he established up-to-date caloric and hydraulic machine laboratories, received with general recognition, at his department. He registered more than 20 patents. Between 1914 and 1916, he was the Dean of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University. Web link

The Society of the Associations of Technical and Natural Sciences established the Bánki Donát Prize in 1955.

Membership: Correspondent member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1911). Web link

Honours: Hollán Prize (1893), Grand Prize of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1927)