A turbocharger compresses air into the combustion space in order to generate more power. Compressed air has a larger air mass than ambient air and this increases the amount of fuel that can be burnt efficiently within the combustion space. Increasing the amount of fuel that is burnt efficiently has a corresponding effect upon the engine’s power output (power output increases) and thus higher power to weight ratio can be obtained for an engine with a turbocharger compared to one without.
The turbocharger consists of three main parts, the compressor, turbine and central hub rotating assembly (CHRA). The compressor and turbine are connected on a common shaft, so both operate at the same speed (same rpm).
Exhaust gases cause the turbine to rotate which causes the compressor to rotate; this is a feedback loop because the amount of air fed to the engine is determined by the speed of the turbine (which is determined by the amount of exhaust gas discharged from the combustion space). As a larger air mass is discharged into the combustion chamber, more fuel can be burnt efficiently.
Approximately 30-35% of all the heat energy lost by an engine is lost through the exhaust gas stream, but a turbocharger reduces this loss to approximately 20%.
This 3D model shows all major components associated with a typical turbocharger, these include:
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