A turbocharger, or turbo (colloquialism), from the Greek "τύρβη" (mixing/spinning) is a centrifugal compressor powered by a high speed turbine that is driven by an engine's exhaust gases. Its benefit lies with the compressor increasing the mass of air entering the engine (forced induction), thereby resulting in greater performance (for either, or both, power and efficiency). They are popularly used with internal combustion engines (e.g., four-stroke engines like Otto cycles and Diesel cycles). Turbochargers have also been found useful compounding external combustion engines such as automotive fuel cells.
The term turbocharger is a modern one, derived by shortening the turbosupercharger, which was widely used during the World War II era and earlier. This term refers to the fact that turbochargers are a specific type of supercharger, one that is driven by a turbine. The most common form of supercharger at the time, which was often referred to as a "geared supercharger", was mechanically driven by the engine, whereas turbochargers are always driven by a turbine that gets its power from the engine's exhaust stream. Twinchargers combine a supercharger and turbocharger.
Turbochargers are also employed in certain two-stroke cycle diesel engines, which would normally require a Roots blower for aspiration. In this specific application, mainly Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) 567, 645, and 710 Series engines, the turbocharger is initially driven by the engine's crankshaft through a gear train and an overriding clutch, thereby providing aspiration for combustion. After the engine achieves combustion, and after the exhaust gases reach sufficient temperature, the overriding clutch disengages the turbo-compressor from the gear train and the turbo-compressor is thereafter driven exclusively by the turbine, which, in turn, is driven by the exhaust gases. In the EMD application, the turbocharger is used for normal aspiration during starting and low power output settings and is used for true turbocharging during medium and high power output settings. This is particularly beneficial at high altitudes, as are often encountered on western U.S. railroads. One EMD engine model was fitted with a "locked" turbocharger; it was used in normal aspiration mode during starting and all power output settings.
Forced induction dates from the late 19th century, when Gottlieb Daimler patented the technique of using a gear-driven pump to force air into an internal combustion engine in 1885. The turbocharger was invented by Swiss engineer Alfred Büchi, who received a patent in 1905 for using a compressor driven by exhaust gasses to force air into a piston engine. During the First World War French engineer Auguste Rateau fitted turbochargers to Renault engines powering various French fighters with some success. In 1918, General Electric engineer Sanford Alexander Moss attached a turbo to a V12 Liberty aircraft engine. The engine was tested at Pikes Peak in Colorado at 14,000 feet (4,300 m) to demonstrate that it could eliminate the power loss usually experienced in internal combustion engines as a result of reduced air pressure and density at high altitude. General Electric called the system turbosupercharging.
Turbochargers were first used in production aircraft engines such as the Napier Lioness in the 1920s, although they were less common than engine-driven centrifugal superchargers. Ships and locomotives equipped with turbocharged Diesel engines began appearing in the 1920s. Turbochargers were also used in aviation, most widely used by the United States, which led the world in the technology due to General Electric's early start. During World War II, notable examples of US aircraft with turbochargers include the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, P-38 Lightning and P-47 Thunderbolt. The technology was also used in experimental fittings by a number of other manufacturers, notably a variety of Focke-Wulf Fw 190 models, but the need for advanced high-temperature metals in the turbine kept them out of widespread use.
Turbocharging versus supercharging
In contrast to turbochargers, superchargers are not powered by exhaust gases but are connected directly or indirectly to an engine. Belts, chains, shafts, and gears are only a few of the ways this is performed. Most automotive superchargers are positive-displacement pumps, such as the Roots supercharger. Some superchargers are compressors such as World War II piston aircraft engines, to be specific the Rolls-Royce Merlin and the Daimler-Benz DB 601, which used single-speed or multi-speed centrifugal superchargers.
A supercharger uses mechanical energy from the engine to drive the supercharger. For example, on the single-stage single-speed supercharged Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the supercharger uses up about 150 horsepower (110 kW). Yet the benefits outweigh the costs: For that 150 hp (110 kW), the engine generates an additional 400 horsepower and delivers 1,000 hp (750 kW) when it would otherwise deliver 750 hp (560 kW), a net gain of 250 hp (190 kW). This is where the principal disadvantage of a supercharger becomes apparent: The internal hardware of the engine must withstand generating 1150 horsepower.
In comparison, a turbocharger does not place a direct mechanical load on the engine. It is more efficient because it converts the waste heat of the exhaust gas into horsepower used to drive the compressor. In contrast to supercharging, the principal disadvantages of turbocharging are the back-pressuring (exhaust throttling) of the engine and the inefficiencies of the turbine versus direct-drive.
A combination of an exhaust-driven turbocharger and an engine-driven supercharger can mitigate the weaknesses of the other. This technique is called twincharging. Some Crossley two-stroke diesel engines even used a triple system. As the exhaust was through ports, not valves, it was necessary to use exhaust pulse pressure charging. A Roots blower supplied air for scavenging and a turbocharger provided increased boost pressure when a high enough speed was reached.
Template:Unreferenced section All naturally aspirated Otto and diesel cycle engines rely on the downward stroke of a piston to create a low-pressure area (less than atmospheric pressure) above the piston in order to draw air through the intake system. With the rare exception of tuned-induction systems, most engines cannot inhale their full displacement of atmospheric-density air. The measure of this loss or inefficiency in four-stroke engines is called volumetric efficiency. If the density of the intake air above the piston is equal to atmospheric, then the engine would have 100% volumetric efficiency. However, most engines fail to achieve this level of performance.
This loss of potential power is often compounded by the loss of density seen with elevated altitudes. Thus, a natural use of the turbocharger is with aircraft engines. As an aircraft climbs to higher altitudes, the pressure of the surrounding air quickly falls off. At 5,486 m (18,000 ft), the air is at half the pressure of sea level, which means that the engine will produce less than half-power at this altitude.
The objective of a turbocharger, just as that of a supercharger, is to improve an engine's volumetric efficiency by increasing the intake density. The compressor draws in ambient air and compresses it before it enters into the intake manifold at increased pressure. This results in a greater mass of air entering the cylinders on each intake stroke. The power needed to spin the centrifugal compressor is derived from the high pressure and temperature of the engine's exhaust gases. The turbine converts the engine exhaust's potential pressure energy and kinetic velocity energy into rotational power, which is in turn used to drive the compressor.
A turbocharger may also be used to increase fuel efficiency without any attempt to increase power. It does this by recovering waste energy in the exhaust and feeding it back into the engine intake. By using this otherwise wasted energy to increase the mass of air, it becomes easier to ensure that all fuel is burned before being vented at the start of the exhaust stage. The increased temperature from the higher pressure gives a higher Carnot efficiency.
The control of turbochargers is very complex and has changed dramatically over the 100-plus years of its use. A great deal of this complexity stems directly from the control and performance requirements of various engines with which it is used. In general, the turbocharger will accelerate in speed when the turbine generates excess power and decelerate when the turbine generates deficient power. Aircraft, industrial diesels, fuel cells, and motor-sports are examples of the wide range of performance requirements.
Pressure increase / boost
In all turbocharger applications, boost pressure is limited to keep the entire engine system, including the turbo, inside its thermal and mechanical design operating range. Over-boosting an engine frequently causes damage to the engine in a variety of ways including pre-ignition, overheating, and over-stressing the engine's internal hardware.
For example, to avoid engine knocking (aka pre-ignition or detonation) and the related physical damage to the engine, the intake manifold pressure must not get too high, thus the pressure at the intake manifold of the engine must be controlled by some means. Opening the waste-gate allows the energy for the turbine to bypass it and pass directly to the exhaust pipe. The turbocharger is forced to slow as the turbine is starved of its source of power, the exhaust gas. Slowing the turbine/compressor rotor begets less compressor pressure.
In modern installations, an actuator controlled manually (frequently seen in aircraft) or an actuator controlled by the car's Engine Control Unit, forces the wastegate. to open or close as necessary. Again, the reduction in turbine speed results in the slowing of the compressor, and in less air pressure at the intake manifold.
In the automotive engines, boost refers to the intake manifold pressure that exceeds normal atmospheric pressure. This is representative of the extra air pressure that is achieved over what would be achieved without the forced induction. The level of boost may be shown on a pressure gauge, usually in bar, psi or possibly kPa. Anything above normal atmospheric level is considered to be boost.
The table below is used to demonstrate the wide range of conditions experienced by automobiles in the western hemisphere. In the simple case, the pressure measurement "atm" is approximately equivalent to the effective volumetric efficiency (decimal fraction) as a result of driving at a different elevation. Clearly, turbocharging can be of practical value.
Daytona Beach Denver Death Valley Colorado State Highway 5 La Rinconada, Peru, elevation 0 m / 0 ft 1,609 m / 5,280 ft -86 m / -282 ft 4,347 m / 14,264 ft 5,100 m / 16,732 ft atm 1.000 0.823 1.010 0.581 0.526 bar 1.013 0.834 1.024 0.589 0.533 psia 14.696 12.100 14.846 8.543 7.731 kPa 101.3 83.40 102.4 58.90 53.30
In most aircraft engines the main benefit of turbochargers is to maintain manifold pressure as altitude increases. Since atmospheric pressure reduces as the aircraft climbs, power drops as a function of altitude in normally aspirated engines. Aircraft manifold pressure in western-built aircraft is expressed in inches of mercury, where 29.92 inches is the standard sea-level pressure.
In high-performance aircraft, turbochargers will provide takeoff manifold pressures in the 30- to 42-inchHg (1- to 1.4 bar) range. This varies according to aircraft and engine types. In contrast, the takeoff manifold pressure of a normally aspirated engine is about 27 in. Hg, even at sea level, due to losses in the induction system (air filter, ducting, throttle body, etc.).
As the turbocharged aircraft climbs, however, the pilot (or automated system) can close the wastegate, forcing more exhaust gas through the turbocharger turbine, thereby maintaining manifold pressure during the climb, at least until the critical pressure altitude is reached (when the wastegate is fully closed), after which manifold pressure will fall. With such systems, modern high-performance piston engine aircraft can cruise at altitudes above 20,000 feet, where low air density results in lower drag and higher true airspeeds. This allows flying "above the weather". In manually controlled wastegate systems, the pilot must take care not to overboost the engine, which will cause pre-ignition, leading to engine damage. Further, since most aircraft turbocharger systems do not include an intercooler, the engine is typically operated on the rich side of peak exhaust temperature in order to avoid overheating the turbocharger.
In non-high-performance turbocharged aircraft, the turbocharger is solely used to maintain sea-level manifold pressure during the climb (this is called turbo-normalizing).
All turbocharger applications can be roughly divided into 2 categories, those requiring rapid throttle response and those that do not. This is the rough division between automotive applications and all others (marine, aircraft, commercial automotive, industrial, locomotives). While important to varying degrees, turbo lag is most problematic when rapid changes in engine performance are required.
Turbo lag is the time required to change speed and function effectively in response to a throttle change. For example, this is noticed as a hesitation in throttle response when accelerating from idle as compared to a naturally aspirated engine. Throttle lag may be noticeable under any driving condition, yet becomes a significant issue under acceleration. This is symptomatic of the time needed for the exhaust system working in concert with the turbine to generate enough extra power to accelerate rapidly. A combination of inertia, friction, and compressor load are the primary contributors to turbo lag. By eliminating the turbine, the directly driven compressor in a supercharger does not suffer from this problem.
Lag can be reduced in a number of ways:
- by lowering the rotational inertia of the turbocharger; for example by using lighter, lower radius parts to allow the spool-up to happen more quickly. Ceramic turbines are of benefit in this regard and or billet compressor wheel.
- by changing the aspect ratio of the turbine.
- by increasing the upper-deck air pressure (compressor discharge) and improving the wastegate response; this improves performance but cost increases and reliability decreases.
- by reducing bearing frictional losses; by using a foil bearing rather than a conventional oil bearing. This reduces friction and contributes to faster acceleration of the turbo's rotating assembly.
- Variable-nozzle turbochargers (discussed below) greatly reduce lag.
- by decreasing the volume of the upper-deck piping.
- by using multiple turbos sequentially or in parallel.
- by utilizing an Antilag system.
Lag is not to be confused with the boost threshold. The boost threshold of a turbo system describes the lower bound of the region within which the compressor will operate. Below a certain rate of flow at any given pressure multiplier, a given compressor will not produce significant boost. This has the effect of limiting boost at particular rpm regardless of exhaust gas pressure. Newer turbocharger and engine developments have caused boost thresholds to steadily decline.
Electrical boosting ("E-boosting") is a new technology under development; it uses a high-speed electrical motor to drive the turbocharger to speed before exhaust gases are available, e.g., from a stop-light. An alternative to e-boosting is to completely separate the turbine and compressor into a turbine-generator and electric-compressor as in the hybrid turbocharger. This allows the compressor speed to become independent to that of the turbine. A similar system utilising a hydraulic drive system and overspeed clutch arrangement was fitted in 1981 to accelerate the turbocharger of the MV Canadian Pioneer (Doxford 76J4CR engine).
Turbochargers start producing boost only above a certain exhaust mass flow rate. The boost threshold is determined by the engine displacement, engine rpm, throttle opening, and the size of the turbo. Without adequate exhaust gas flow to spin the turbine blades, the turbo cannot produce the necessary force needed to compress the air going into the engine. The point at full throttle in which the mass flow in the exhaust is strong enough to force air into the engine is known as the boost threshold rpm. Engineers have, in some cases, been able to reduce the boost threshold rpm to idle speed to allow for instant response. Both Lag and Threshold characteristics can be acquired through the use of a compressor map and a mathematical equation.Template:Citation needed
Key components and installation
The turbocharger has three main components:
- A turbine, which is almost always a radial inflow turbine
- A compressor, which is almost always a centrifugal compressor
- The center housing/hub rotating assembly (CHRA).
The first two components are the primary flow path components. Depending upon the exact installation and application, numerous other parts, features and controls may be required.
Center housing and rotating assembly
- Impeller/diffuser/volute housing
- Ported shroud/map width enhancement
The flow range of a turbocharger compressor can also be increased by allowing air to bleed from a ring of holes or a circular groove around the compressor at a point slightly downstream of the compressor inlet (but far nearer to the inlet than to the outlet).
The ported shroud is a performance enhancement that allows the compressor to operate at significantly lower flows. It achieves this by forcing a simulation of impeller stall to occur continuously. Allowing some air to escape at this location inhibits the onset of surge and widens the compressor map. While peak efficiencies decrease, areas of high efficiency may notably increase in size. Increases in compressor efficiency result in slightly cooler (more dense) intake air, which improves power. In contrast to compressor exhaust blow off valves, which are electronically controlled, this is a passive structure that is constantly open.
The ability of the compressor to accommodate high mass flows (high boost at low rpm) may also be increased marginally (because near choke conditions the compressor draws air inward through the bleed path). This technology is widely used by turbocharger manufacturers such as Honeywell Turbo Technologies, Cummins Turbo Technologies, and GReddy. When implemented appropriately, it has a reasonable impact on compressor map width while having little effect on the maximum efficiency island.
For all practical situations, the act of compressing air increases the air's temperature along with pressure. This temperature increase can cause a number of problems when not expected or when installing a turbocharger on an engine not designed for forced induction. Excessive charge air temperature can lead to detonation, which is extremely destructive to engines.
When a turbocharger is installed on an engine, it is common practice to fit the engine with an intercooler (also known as a charge air cooler, or CAC), a type of heat exchanger that gives up heat energy in the charge to the ambient air. To assure the intercooler's performance, it is common practice to leak test the intercooler during routine service, particularly in trucks where a leaking intercooler can result in a 20% reduction in fuel economy.
- Fuel-air mixture ratio
In addition to the use of intercoolers, it is common practice to introduce extra fuel into the charge for the sole purpose of cooling. The amount of extra fuel varies, but typically reduces the air-fuel ratio to between 11 and 13, instead of the stoichiometric 14.7 (in gasoline engines). The extra fuel is not burned, as there is insufficient oxygen to complete the chemical reaction, and instead undergoes a phase change from vapor (liquid) to gas. This reaction absorbs heat (the latent heat of vaporization), and the added mass of the extra fuel reduces the average kinetic energy of the charge and exhaust gas. The gaseous hydrocarbons generated are oxidized to carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and water in the catalytic converter.
A method of coping with this problem is in one of several ways. The most common one is to add an intercooler or aftercooler somewhere in the air stream between the compressor outlet of the turbocharger and the engine intake manifold. Intercoolers and aftercoolers are types of heat exchangers that allow the compressed air to give up some of its heat energy to the ambient air. In the past, some aircraft featured anti-detonant injection for takeoff and climb phases of flight, which performs the function of cooling the fuel/air charge before it reaches the cylinders.
In contrast, modern turbocharged aircraft usually forgo any kind of temperature compensation, because the turbochargers are in general small and the manifold pressures created by the turbocharger are not very high. Thus, the added weight, cost, and complexity of a charge cooling system are considered to be unnecessary penalties. In those cases, the turbocharger is limited by the temperature at the compressor outlet, and the turbocharger and its controls are designed to prevent a large enough temperature rise to cause detonation. Even so, in many cases the engines are designed to run rich in order to use the evaporating fuel for charge cooling.
The housings fitted around the compressor impeller and turbine collect and direct the gas flow through the wheels as they spin at extremely high speeds of up to 250,000 rpm. The size and shape can dictate some performance characteristics of the overall turbocharger. Often the same basic turbocharger assembly will be available from the manufacturer with multiple housing choices for the turbine and sometimes the compressor cover as well. This allows the designer of the engine system to tailor the compromises between performance, response, and efficiency to application or preference. Twin-scroll designs have two valve-operated exhaust gas inlets, a smaller sharper angled one for quick response and a larger less angled one for peak performance.
The turbine and impeller wheel sizes also dictate the amount of air or exhaust that can be flowed through the system, and the relative efficiency at which they operate. In general, the larger the turbine wheel and compressor wheel the larger the flow capacity. Measurements and shapes can vary, as well as curvature and number of blades on the wheels. Variable geometry turbochargers are further developments of these ideas.
The center hub rotating assembly (CHRA) houses the shaft that connects the compressor impeller and turbine. It also must contain a bearing system to suspend the shaft, allowing it to rotate at very high speed with minimal friction. For instance, in automotive applications the CHRA typically uses a thrust bearing or ball bearing lubricated by a constant supply of pressurized engine oil. The CHRA may also be considered "water-cooled" by having an entry and exit point for engine coolant to be cycled. Water-cooled models allow engine coolant to be used to keep the lubricating oil cooler, avoiding possible oil coking (the destructive distillation of the engine oil) from the extreme heat found in the turbine. The development of air-foil bearings has removed this risk. Adaptation of turbochargers on naturally aspirated internal combustion engines, on either petrol or diesel, can yield power increases of 30% to 40%.
- Variable geometry
Instead of using two turbochargers in different sizes, some engines use a single turbocharger, called variable-geometry or variable-nozzle turbos; these turbos use a set of vanes in the exhaust housing to maintain a constant gas velocity across the turbine, the same kind of control as used on power plant turbines. Such turbochargers have minimal lag like a small conventional turbocharger and can achieve full boost as low as 1,500 engine rpm, yet remain efficient as a large conventional turbocharger at higher engine speeds. In many setups, these turbos do not use a wastegate. The vanes are controlled by a membrane identical to the one on a wastegate, but the mechanism operates the variable vane system instead. These variable turbochargers are commonly used in diesel engines.
To manage the pressure of the air coming from the compressor (known as the "upper-deck air pressure"), the engine's exhaust gas flow is regulated before it enters the turbine with a wastegate that bypasses excess exhaust gas entering the turbocharger's turbine. A wastegate is the most common mechanical speed control system, and is often further augmented by an electronic or manual boost controller. The main function of a wastegate is to allow some of the exhaust to bypass the turbine when the set intake pressure is achieved. This regulates the rotational speed of the turbine and thus the output of the compressor. The wastegate is opened and closed by the compressed air from the turbo and can be raised by using a solenoid to regulate the pressure fed to the wastegate membrane. This solenoid can be controlled by Automatic Performance Control, the engine's electronic control unit or a boost control computer.
Most modern automotive engines have wastegates that are internal to the turbocharger, although some earlier engines (such as the Audi Inline-5 in the UrS4 and S6) have external wastegates. External wastegates are more accurate and efficient than internal wastegates, but are far more expensive, and thus are in general found only in racing cars (where precise control of turbo boost is necessary and any increase in efficiency is welcomed). Amongst the modified car community, external wastegates may be configured to vent bypass gasses directly to atmosphere through a Screamer Pipe instead of routing them back into the exhaust. This method is desirable due to the loud jet sound that is produced and potential performance gains from reduced exhaust back pressure.
Aircraft waste-gates and their operation are similar to automotive installations, however there are notable differences as well. Even within aircraft applications there are 2 distinctions, military/performance and non-performance.
Anti-surge/dump/blow off valves
Turbocharged engines operating at wide open throttle and high rpm require a large volume of air to flow between the turbo and the inlet of the engine. When the throttle is closed compressed air will flow to the throttle valve without an exit (i.e., the air has nowhere to go).
This causes a surge that can raise the pressure of the air to a level that can damage the turbo. If the pressure rises high enough, a compressor stall will occur, where the stored pressurized air decompresses backward across the impeller and out the inlet. The reverse flow back across the turbocharger causes the turbine shaft to reduce in speed more quickly than it would naturally, possibly damaging the turbocharger. In order to prevent this from happening, a valve is fitted between the turbo and inlet, which vents off the excess air pressure. These are known as an anti-surge, diverter, bypass, blow-off valve (BOV), or dump valve. It is a pressure relief valve, and is normally operated by the vacuum in the intake manifold.
The primary use of this valve is to maintain the spinning of the turbocharger at a high speed. The air is usually recycled back into the turbo inlet (diverter or bypass valves) but can also be vented to the atmosphere (blow off valve). Recycling back into the turbocharger inlet is required on an engine that uses a mass-airflow fuel injection system, because dumping the excessive air overboard downstream of the mass airflow sensor will cause an excessively rich fuel mixture (this is because the mass-airflow sensor has already accounted for the extra air that is no longer being used). Valves that recycle the air will also shorten the time needed to re-spool the turbo after sudden engine deceleration, since the load on the turbo when the valve is active is much lower than it is if the air charge is vented to atmosphere.
Template:Unreferenced section Turbochargers can be damaged by dirty or ineffective oiling systems, and most manufacturers recommend more frequent oil changes for turbocharged engines. Many owners and some companies recommend using synthetic oils, which tend to flow more readily when cold and do not break down as quickly as conventional oils. Because the turbocharger will heat when running, many recommend letting the engine idle for up to three minutes before shutting off the engine if the turbocharger was used shortly before stopping. This gives the oil and the lower exhaust temperatures time to cool the turbo rotating assembly, and ensures that oil is supplied to the turbocharger while the turbine housing and exhaust manifold are still very hot; otherwise coking of the lubricating oil trapped in the unit may occur when the heat soaks into the bearings, causing rapid bearing wear and failure when the car is restarted. Even small particles of burnt oil will accumulate and lead to choking the oil supply and failure. This problem is less pronounced in diesel engines, due to specifications of higher-quality oil.
A turbo timer can keep an engine running for a pre-specified period of time, to automatically provide this cool-down period. Oil coking is also eliminated by foil bearings. A more complex and problematic protective barrier against oil coking is the use of water-cooled bearing cartridges. The water boils in the cartridge when the engine is shut off and forms a natural recirculation to drain away the heat. Nevertheless, it is bad practice to shut the engine off while the turbo and manifold are still glowing with heat.
In custom applications using tubular headers rather than cast iron manifolds, the need for a cooldown period is reduced because the lighter headers store much less heat than heavy cast iron manifolds.
Automotive turbochargers, diesel and gasoline
The turbocharger's small size and low weight have production and marketing advantage to vehicle manufacturers. By providing naturally aspirated and turbocharged versions of one engine, the manufacturer can offer two different power outputs with only a fraction of the development and production costs of designing and installing a different engine. Improvements to robustness, reliability and cooling may be required to cope with the extra power. These can include sodium-cooled exhaust valves, better metallurgy for pistons or connecting rods, and increased piston cooling by spraying engine oil underneath the piston. The compact nature of a turbocharger means that bodywork and engine compartment layout changes to accommodate the more powerful engine are not needed. The use of parts common to the two versions of the same engine reduces production and servicing costs.
Today, turbochargers are most commonly used on gasoline engines in high-performance automobiles and diesel engines in transportation and other industrial equipment. Small cars in particular benefit from this technology, as there is often little room to fit a large engine. Volvo, Saab, Audi, Volkswagen, and Subaru have produced turbocharged cars for many years; the turbo Porsche 944's acceleration performance was very similar to that of the larger-engine non-turbo Porsche 928; and Chrysler Corporation built numerous turbocharged cars in the 1980s and 1990s. Buick also developed a turbocharged V-6 during the energy crisis in the late 1970s as a fuel-efficient alternative to the enormous eight-cylinder engines that powered the famously large cars and produced them through most of the next decade as a performance option. Recently, several manufacturers have returned to the turbocharger in an attempt to improve the tradeoff between performance and fuel economy by using a smaller turbocharged engine in place of a larger normally aspirated engine. The Ford EcoBoost engine is one such design, along with Volkswagen Group's TSI/TFSI engines, such as the Twincharger 1.4 engine.
The first production turbocharged automobile engines came from General Motors in 1962. The Y-body Oldsmobile Cutlass Jetfire was fitted with a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger and the Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder with a TRW turbocharger. At the Paris auto show in 1974, during the height of the oil crisis, Porsche introduced the 911 Turbo – the world’s first production sports car with an exhaust turbocharger and pressure regulator. This was made possible by the introduction of a wastegate to direct excess exhaust gases away from the exhaust turbine.
- 1962 Oldsmobile Cutlass Jetfire
- 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder
- 1973 BMW 2002 Turbo
- 1974 Porsche 911 Turbo
- 1978 Buick Regal
- 1978 Saab 99
- 1978 Peugeot 604 turbodiesel
- 1978 Mercedes-Benz 300SD turbodiesel (United States/Canada)
- 1979 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV 2000 Turbodelta
- 1980 Mitsubishi Lancer GT Turbo
- 1980 Pontiac Firebird
- 1980 Renault 5 Turbo
- 1981 Volvo 240-series Turbo
Some engines, such as V-type engines, utilize two identically sized but smaller turbos, each fed by a separate set of exhaust streams from the engine. The two smaller turbos produce the same (or more) aggregate amount of boost as a larger single turbo, but since they are smaller they reach their optimal RPM, and thus optimal boost delivery, more quickly. Such an arrangement of turbos is typically referred to as a parallel twin-turbo system. The first production automobile with parallel twin turbochargers was the Maserati Biturbo of the early 1980s. Later such installations include Porsche 911 TT, Nissan GT-R, Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4, Nissan 300ZXTT, Audi RS6, and BMW E90.
Some car makers combat lag by using two small turbos. A typical arrangement for this is to have one turbo active across the entire rev range of the engine and one activates at higher RPM. Below this RPM, both exhaust and air inlet of the secondary turbo are closed. Being individually smaller they do not suffer from excessive lag and having the second turbo operating at a higher RPM range allows it to get to full rotational speed before it is required. Such combinations are referred to as a sequential twin-turbo. Porsche first used this technology in 1985 in the Porsche 959. Sequential twin-turbos are usually much more complicated than a single or parallel twin-turbo systems because they require what amounts to three sets of intake and waste gate pipes for the two turbochargers as well as valves to control the direction of the exhaust gases. Many new diesel engines use this technology not only to eliminate lag but also to reduce fuel consumption and reduce emissions.
A natural use of the turbocharger is with aircraft engines. As an aircraft climbs to higher altitudes the pressure of the surrounding air quickly falls off. At 5,486 m (18,000 ft), the air is at half the pressure of sea level, and the airframe experiences only half the aerodynamic drag. However, since the charge in the cylinders is being pushed in by this air pressure, it means that the engine will normally produce only half-power at full throttle at this altitude. Pilots would like to take advantage of the low drag at high altitudes in order to go faster, but a naturally aspirated engine will not produce enough power at the same altitude to do so.
A turbocharger remedies this problem by compressing the air back to sea-level pressures, or even much higher, in order to produce rated power at high altitude. Since the size of the turbocharger is chosen to produce a given amount of pressure at high altitude, the turbocharger is over-sized for low altitude. The speed of the turbocharger is controlled by a wastegate. Early systems used a fixed wastegate, resulting in a turbocharger that functioned much like a supercharger. Later systems utilized an adjustable wastegate, controlled either manually by the pilot or by an automatic hydraulic or electric system. When the aircraft is at low altitude the wastegate is usually fully open, venting all the exhaust gases overboard. As the aircraft climbs and the air density drops, the wastegate must continuously close in small increments to maintain full power. The altitude at which the wastegate is fully closed and the engine is still producing full rated power is known as the critical altitude. When the aircraft climbs above the critical altitude, engine power output will decrease as altitude increases just as it would in a naturally aspirated engine.
With older supercharged aircraft, the pilot must continually adjust the throttle to maintain the required manifold pressure during ascent or descent. The pilot must also take great care to avoid overboosting the engine and causing damage, especially during emergencies such as go-arounds. In contrast, modern turbocharger systems use an automatic wastegate, which controls the manifold pressure within parameters preset by the manufacturer. For these systems, as long as the control system is working properly and the pilot's control commands are smooth and deliberate, a turbocharger will not overboost the engine and damage it.
Yet the majority of World War II engines used superchargers, because they maintained three significant manufacturing advantages over turbochargers, which were larger, involved extra piping, and required exotic high-temperature materials in the turbine and pre-turbine section of the exhaust system. The size of the piping alone is a serious issue; American fighters Vought F4U and Republic P-47 used the same engine but the huge barrel-like fuselage of the latter was, in part, needed to hold the piping to and from the turbocharger in the rear of the plane. Turbocharged piston engines are also subject to many of the same operating restrictions as gas turbine engines. Pilots must make smooth, slow throttle adjustments to avoid overshooting their target manifold pressure. The fuel mixture must often be adjusted far on the rich side of stoichiometric combustion needs to avoid pre-detonation in the engine when running at high power settings. In systems using a manually operated wastegate, the pilot must be careful not to exceed the turbocharger's maximum RPM. Turbocharged engines require a cooldown period after landing to prevent cracking of the turbo or exhaust system from thermal shock. Turbocharged engines require frequent inspections of the turbocharger and exhaust systems for damage due to the increased heat, increasing maintenance costs.
Today, most general aviation aircraft are naturally aspirated.Template:Citation needed The small number of modern aviation piston engines designed to run at high altitudes in general use a turbocharger or turbo-normalizer system rather than a supercharger.Template:Citation needed The change in thinking is largely due to economics. Aviation gasoline was once plentiful and cheap, favoring the simple but fuel-hungry supercharger. As the cost of fuel has increased, the supercharger has fallen out of favor.
Turbocharged aircraft often occupy a performance range between that of normally aspirated piston-powered aircraft and turbine-powered aircraft. The increased maintenance costs of a turbocharged engine are considered worthwhile for this purpose, as a turbocharged piston engine is still far cheaper than any turbine engine.
Marine and land-based diesel turbochargers
- Turbocharging can dramatically improve an engine's specific power and power-to-weight ratio, performance characteristics, which are normally poor in non-turbocharged diesel engines.
- Diesel engines have no detonation because diesel fuel is injected at the end of the compression stroke, ignited by compression heat. Because of this, diesel engines can use much higher boost pressures than spark ignition engines, limited only by the engine's ability to withstand the additional heat and pressure.
Motorsport and performance turbochargers
It is also important to understand that a gasoline engine's design and compression ratio effect the maximum possible boost. To obtain more power from higher boost levels and maintain reliability, many engine components have to be replaced or upgraded such as the fuel pump, fuel injectors, pistons, connecting rods, crankshafts, valves, head-gasket, and head bolts. The maximum possible boost depends on the fuel's octane rating and the inherent tendency of any particular engine toward detonation. Premium gasoline or racing gasoline can be used to prevent detonation within reasonable limits. Ethanol, methanol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) allow higher boost than gasoline, because of their higher resistance to autoignition (lower tendency to knock). Diesel engines can also tolerate much higher levels of boost pressure than Otto cycle engines, because only air is being compressed during the compression phase, and fuel is injected later, removing the knocking issue entirely.
Aircraft engineer Frank Halford experimented with turbocharging in his modified Aston Martin racing car the Halford Special, but it is unclear whether or not his efforts were successful. The first successful application of turbocharging in automotive racing appears to have been in 1952 when Fred Agabashian in the diesel-powered Cummins Special qualified for pole position at the Indianapolis 500 and led for 175 miles (282 km) before ingested tire shards disabled the compressor section of the Elliott turbocharger. Offenhauser's turbocharged engines returned to Indianapolis in 1966, with victories coming in 1968 using a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger. The Offenhauser turbo peaked at over 1,000 hp (750 kW) in 1973, which led USAC to limit boost pressure. In their turn, Porsche dominated the Can-Am series with a 1,100 hp (820 kW) 917/30. Turbocharged cars dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1976 and 1988, and then from 2000-2007.
1984 Ferrari 126C4/M2 at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009. 1.5 litre turbocharged V6, 850bhp
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In Formula One, in the so called "Turbo Era" of 1977 until 1988, Renault, Honda, BMW, and Ferrari produced engines with a capacity of 1,500 cc (92 cu in) able to generate 1,000 to 1,500 horsepower (750 to 1,100 kW). Renault was the first manufacturer to apply turbo technology in F1.Template:Citation needed The project's high cost was compensated for by its performance, and led other engine manufacturers to follow suit. Turbocharged engines dominated and ended the Cosworth DFV era in the mid-1980s. However, the FIA decided turbochargers were making the sport too dangerous and expensive. In 1987, FIA decided to limit the maximum boost before the technology was banned for 1989.
In land speed racing, an 1,800 hp (1,340 kW) twin-turbocharged Pontiac GTA developed by Gale Banks of Southern California, set a land speed record for the "World's Fastest Passenger Car" of 277 mph (446 km/h). This event was chronicled at the time in a 1987 cover story published by Autoweek magazine.Template:Citation needed Gale Banks Engineering also built and raced several diesel-powered machines, including what Banks erroneouslyTemplate:Citation needed calls the "World's Fastest Diesel Truck," a street-legal 735 hp (548 kW) Dodge Dakota pick-up that towed its own trailer to the Bonneville Salt Flats and then set an official FIA record of 217 mph (349 km/h) with a one-way top speed of 222 mph (357 km/h). The truck also showed the fuel economy of a turbocharged diesel engine by averaging 21.2-mpgTemplate:Clarify on the Hot Rod Power Tour. If it ran 50 mph (80 km/h) faster, it would almost match the actual fastest diesel truck, the "Phoenix" of R. B. Slagle and Carl Heap.Template:Citation needed
Modern Group N Rally cars are forced by the rules to use a 33 mm (1.3 in) restrictor at the compressor inlet, which effectively limits the maximum boost (pressure above atmospheric) that the cars can achieve at high rpm. Of note is that, at low rpm, they can reach boost pressures of above 22 psi (1.5 bar).
In rallying, turbocharged engines of up to 2,000 cc (120 cu in) have long been the preferred motive power for the Group A/N World Rally Car competitors, due to the exceptional power-to-weight ratios attainable. This combines with the use of vehicles with relatively small bodyshells for maneuverability and handling. As turbo outputs rose to levels similar to F1's category, rather than banning the technology, FIA restricted turbo inlet diameter (currently 34 mm).
Using turbochargers to gain performance without a large gain in weight was very appealing to the Japanese factories in the 1980s. The first example of a turbocharged bike is the 1978 Kawasaki Z1R TC. It used a Rayjay ATP turbo kit to build 0.35 bar (5 psi) of boost, bringing power up from c. 90 hp (67 kW) to c. 105 hp (78 kW). However, it was only marginally faster than the standard model.
In 1982, Honda released the CX500T featuring a carefully developed turbo (as opposed to the Z1-R's bolt-on approach). It has a rotation speed of 200,000 rpm. The development of the CX500T was riddled with problems; due to its being a V-twin engine, the intake periods in the engine rotation are staggered, leading to periods of high intake and long periods of no intake at all. Designing around these problems increased the price of the bike, and the performance still was not as good as the cheaper CB900 (a 16 valve in-line four). During these years, Kawasaki produced the GPz750 Turbo, Suzuki produced the XN85, and Yamaha produced the Seca Turbo. The GPz750 Turbo and XN85 were fuel-injected, whereas the Yamaha Seca Turbo relied on pressurized carburetors.
Since the mid-1980s, no manufactures have produced turbocharged motorcycles making these bikes a bit of an educational experience; as of 2007, no factories offer turbocharged motorcycles (although the Suzuki B-King prototype featured a supercharged Hayabusa engine). The Dutch manufacturer EVA motorcycles builds a small series of turbocharged diesel motorcycle with an 800cc smart CDI engine.
Manufacturers of turbochargers
- ABB Turbo Systems
- BorgWarner Turbo Systems
- Bosch Mahle Turbo Systems (Joint Venture of Bosch and Mahle)
- Cummins Turbo Technologies (Holset)
- Hitachi Warner Turbo Systems (Joint Venture of Hitachi and BorgWarner)
- Honeywell Turbo Technologies (previously Garrett AiResearch)
- IHI Corporation
- MAN Diesel
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
- NAPIER Turbochargers
- Turbo Energy Ltd (Joint venture of Borg warner and Brakes India)
- Voith Turbo
- Garrett AiResearch
- Boost gauge
- Gale Banks
- exhaust pulse pressure charging
- Hybrid turbocharger
- Variable geometry turbocharger
- ↑ Baines, Nicholas C. (2005). Fundamentals of Turbocharging. Concepts ETI. ISBN 0-933283-14-8.
- ↑ Popular Mechanics - Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=-9kDAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA71&dq=turbocharger%20supercharger&pg=PA72#v=onepage&q=turbocharger%20supercharger&f=false. Retrieved 2011-08-07.
- ↑ History of the Supercharger, http://www.calaisturbo.org/history-of-the-supercharger.php, retrieved 2011-06-30
- ↑ "The turbocharger turns 100 years old this week". Gizmag.com. http://www.gizmag.com/go/4848/. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 "Hill Climb". Air & Space Magazine. http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/climb.html?c=y&page=1. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- ↑ "The Turbosupercharger and the Airplane Powerplant.". http://rwebs.net/avhistory/opsman/geturbo/geturbo.htm.
- ↑ "Gallery". Picturegallery.imeche.org. http://picturegallery.imeche.org/ViewLarger.aspx?PID=422&RAID=30. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Parkhurst, Terry. "Turbochargers: an interview with Garrett’s Martin Verschoor". Allpar, LLC. http://www.acarplace.com/cars/turbochargers.html. Retrieved 12 December 2006.
- ↑ Mechanical engineering: Volume 106, Issues 7-12; p.51
- ↑ Popular Science. Detroit's big switch to Turbo Power. Apr 1984.
- ↑ Nice, Karim. "How Turbochargers Work". Auto.howstuffworks.com. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/turbo3.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- ↑ "Garrett history". Dwperformance.com. http://www.dwperformance.com/about-us.aspx. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- ↑ "Honeywell Heritage: A Hallmark Throughout Turbo History " Booster Online". Honeywellbooster.com. http://honeywellbooster.com/turbotalk/honeywell-heritage-a-hallmark-throughout-turbo-history/. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
- ↑ Kraus, J. "A Look Back: Genesis of the Automotive Turbocharger". Auto Universum. http://autouniversum.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/a-look-back-genesis-of-the-automotive-turbocharger/. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- ↑ "Saab - Saab". Saab.fi. http://www.saab.fi/fi/fi/start#/world/heritage/history/. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
- ↑ "BorgWarner turbo history". Turbodriven.com. http://www.turbodriven.com/en/turbofacts/default.aspx. Retrieved 2010-08-02.
- Don Sherman (February 2006). "Happy 100th Birthday to the Turbocharger". Automobile Magazine. http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/0602_turbocharger_history/index.html.
- Mohawk Innovative Technology, Inc.'s Oil Free Turbocharger
- NASA Oil Free Turbocharger
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