Keen observers of today’s automotive landscape will surely be aware that the turbocharger is all around. Whether it’s a gasoline or diesel motor, manufacturers are taking advantage of this ingenious piece of automotive kit to add more power to an otherwise run-of-the-mill internal combustion engine.
First seen s early as 1905, this invention by Alfred J. Buchi, an automotive engineer from the Gebruder Sulzer Engine Company of Switzerland used a principle similar to today’s turbos. It utilized exhaust gases that drove a turbine that fed air to power a compressor that in turn, forced air into an engine.
And this is exactly how the turbo works. It takes the air and fuel burned during combustion coming out of the exhaust valve and uses these exhaust gases to drive a turbine (or set of turbines). This in turn spins an air compressor that drives additional air into the cylinder that help burn more fuel. This is what produces more power.
Depending on the application, turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline or diesel motors will, for instance, give out as much power as their naturally-aspirated six-cylinder counterparts. And since these engines have smaller displacements, they theoretically consume less fuel than the larger non-turbo mills which are heavier and have larger displacements.
As mentioned above, most carmakers today are utilizing turbocharging to get as much power out of their small displacement motors. Notable examples are Audi and Volkswagen with their Turbocharged Stratified Injection gasoline or Turbo Direct Injection diesels, Ford EcoBoost, BMW TwinPower, among others. Each one has their own version, be it single or twin-turbo. The latter is meant to give that extra kick and get past things such as turbo lag or that delay in response when the accelerator is pressed.
And with our world seemingly bent on power, it looks like turbos are the way to go.