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The turbocharger is very popular in todays vehicles, especially ones with a diesel engine. It has a very simple design and is run on an engines waste product. Free additional horsepower, off a waste product has to be good in anyone's language.
It consists of a turbine wheel and a compressor wheel mounted on the one shaft and in the same housing. On the exhaust side, hot exhaust gas is plumbed into the turbine wheel rotating it before heading down the exhaust pipe. This in turn, rotates the compressor wheel which is mounted after the air filter on the intake side. This sucks in outside air, compresses it and sends it down the intake manifold.
This creates positive pressure in the intake manifold called boost pressure or turbo boost. It forces a greater quantity of fuel and air into the cylinder head to be burnt. This in turn creates more exhaust gas which spins the turbocharger even harder on the turbine side. The longer you keep your foot hard on the throttle the harder the turbocharger will work. They can produce amazing performance increase over naturally aspirated engines though they have their problem.
Popular Questions Asked
So what happens when you suddenly lift off the throttle?
This is where the pop off or blow off valve comes in. The turbo can't suddenly stop spinning so pressure will increase in the intake manifold as on lift off the engine is not using much intake air. The pop off valve will open at a certain pressure and stop the intake manifold building pressure until something bursts.
The turbo also has a wastegate on the exhaust side. This will open to reduce exhaust pressure on the turbine wheel to slow it down.
What are the disadvantages of a Turbocharger?
Turbo Lag - Due to the way they operate they are slow to respond to accelerator inputs. A lot of work has been done to fix this and some of the newer vehicles run twin turbo systems. A small, more nimble one for low rpm and then both for higher rpm.
Heat - Running off hot exhaust gases creates an issue with bearings that the shaft sits in that rotates the turbine. Keeping the bearings cool and well lubricated is vital in a turbocharger.
Expense - Turbocharged engines are more expensive to build than normally aspirated engines. Having additional boot pressure means you need to build a physically stronger engine, with less compression and you have the additional expense of the turbocharger and its installation. The increased horsepower may be worth the cost.
What are the advantages of a Turbocharger?
- Increases a small engines performance to match an engine of much larger capacity.
- You get better fuel economy if not driving it hard compared to a larger engine with equivalent power.
- Increased horsepower and torque