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Turbocharger repair specialists - est. 2003
The hotter inlet manifold gases now have intercoolers to cool the air before entry to the next combustion cycle, and these intercoolers have advanced in design to now maximize heat dissipation, reduce turbo lag, and blend into bodywork and engine size and shape. Whilst water/air cooling is still not uncommon, many road transport applications utilise the air to air method and this has been further refined by clever use of intercooler core design.
To make better use of these extra air efficiencies generated from a modern turbocharger, we often see the need to limit the total boost generated – primarily because it has become too efficient – by the addition of a “wastegate” which effectively limits the total boost pressure generated for use in the inlet of the engine. This regulation of the inlet pressures by ‘purging’ some of the exhaust gas volume before it is harnessed by the turbine wheel, allows designers to make a turbocharger that will produce significant inlet boost pressures at lower engine RPMs than ever imagined. This becomes a necessity when designing an engine to have power at lower RPMs for greater flexibility, broader torque bands, greater drivability in relation to truck engines and all resulting in improvements in fuel consumption, an ever important and topical subject. Additionally, these increased inlet manifold gas volumes and potential pressures produced by modern turbochargers have a downside, but one which has also been attended to by ongoing design improvements!
Turbochargers have had design and manufacturing improvements to componentry such as shaft size and strength, turbine and compressor wheel metallurgical strength and air flow efficiency. Design improvements to bearing , thrust, and seal components, and innovative design improvements to the outer housings make more efficient use of the hot exhaust gas at the one end of the turbo. This creates a “free” available energy source as a by product of normal engine combustion – through to air flow efficiencies at the compressor or cold end to generate the maximum amount of cold air boost into the inlet side of the engine to get the best out of the next stroke of the engine cycle. Modern turbochargers can contain “space age” titanium components – a light weight, but exceptionally strong metal, and ceramic components – similarly light weight, but strong and wear resistant.
The basic principles of turbocharger operation have remained unchanged since turbochargers were first used commercially during the first half of the last century. Hot, high velocity exhaust gas, as it exits the exhaust manifold, is harnessed to spin the turbine wheel of the turbocharger which is directly coupled to the compressor wheel on the other end of the turbocharger. The compressor wheel thus spins (often at speeds in excess of 100,000 RPM) with sufficient speed to compress cold air into the inlet manifold of the engine, creating a “forced induction”.
Whilst the basic principles are unchanged, refinements to the construction and operation of turbochargers have been ongoing for decades.