History of the exhaust gas driven turbocharger

The development of the turbocharger from the beginning up to now.

January 1885

R. Diesel & G. Daimler

The history of the turbocharged motor is almost as old as the invention of the internal combustion engine itself. In this time Gottlieb Daimler (1885) and Rudolf Diesel (1896) attempted by precompression of the air supplied to the engine the engine power increase and fuel consumption to be reduced.

The Patent

Already in 1905, by the Swiss Alfred Büchi (* July 11, 1879, † October 27, 1959) of the "turbocharger" invented (CH 35 259 A).

In this patent is described as in a reciprocating engine through the energy of the exhaust of the engine to increase the fuel-air mixture flow and thus the performance can be increased.

For this the kinetic energy of the exhaust drives over a shaft (b) a turbine (g). This turbine is now a precompressor for the in the cylinders (a) through a cooling system (k) incoming air-fuel mixture.

The first charged engine

The first supercharged engine was built in 1910. It was a two-stroke-rotation-engine and was built by Murray-Willat. By using the turbocharger the problem of performance-reduction of aircraft engines because of declining air-density in higher altitudes could be compensated.

World Record!

In 1919 the U.S. company General Electric successfully completed a turbocharger on the engine of flown by Major Rudolf Schroeder Lepere biplane LUSAC-11 test. There was also a rise of new world record over 28,500 ft up.

Alfred Büchi (* 11. Juli 1879 ; † 27. Oktober 1959)

The breakthrough

The first successful application of exhaust gas turbocharging succeeded the Swiss Alfred Büchi (* July 11, 1879, † October 27, 1959) in 1925, with a power increase of over 40%. From this time the phased introduction of exhaust gas turbocharging began.

The VNT turbocharger

The head of the laboratory for aviation (DVL) in Berlin Dr. Werner Theodor von der Nuell starts in 1936 with the development of the VNT turbocharger.

After the end of World War II, a small group of former BMW employees began under the leadership of Dr. Müller in the WMF (Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik) to build a VNT turbocharger. The first construction drawing dates from 01 September 1945.

1962, it starts
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Oldsmobile Jetfire Turbo Wassereinspritzung

The first series cars

In the year 1962/63 were in the USA the Chevrolet Corvair Monza and the Oldsmobile Jetfire the first production car equipped with exhaust turbocharger. Due to the high compression ratio of 10.25:1 tilted the engine very easy to self-ignition (knocking), which Oldsmobile led to install a water injection system.

By injecting a water-methyl alcohol mixture ("Turbo Rocket Fluid"), the knocking can be avoided. But since most of the drivers had no desire regular reservoir of waterinjection rebuild suffered many of the vehicles engine and turbo damage.

The triumph

In the 70's won the turbo engine with the introduction a high popularity of the turbocharger in Formula 1. After all, could the engine power increase to ~ 1500 hp, which is triple the current output corresponded. The seventies were also the start of series production for turbocharged gasoline engines in Europe. Indeed, BMW is the first manufacturer in Germany who brought 1973 the "2002 turbo" on the market. High engine power, but high fuel consumption coupled with a low reliability brought this era of fast.

Driven by the oil crisis in 1973, the commercial use of turbochargers for diesel engines enforced. Initial investment costs for supercharged engines could now pay off through fuel saving. As the end of the 80s, the pollutant legislation has been tightened, the same trend. Today, almost every commercial engine is turbocharged.

The turbo diesel

In Germany then came the breakthrough of the exhaust gas turbo-charged diesel cars in the area with the start of series production of the Mercedes Benz 300 SD in 1978 and 1981 in the VW Golf Turbo Diesel. By using the exhaust-fume turbocharging the weaknesses of the Diesel engines, like for example the lazy build-up of the speed range and low performance by small cubic capacity, could be removed.

The Diesel engine is also, because of the turbocharging, becoming a lot more interesting for the passenger car industry. The reasons therefore are higher performance and less fuel consumption. Year after year also the fuel-engines are more and more seen with standard-type turbocharged engines.

Go Green...

After the turbo fascination in the early years is changing the turbocharger from the power unit to a small helper to us today to help cut carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction and the environment. In recent years, again reinforced gasoline engines with exhaust turbo in series on the market. Again outweigh the advantages. The advantages are:

  • high performance by small cubic capacity (Downsizing)
  • small size for narrow installation conditions
  • higher torques by low speed ranges
  • lower noise level
  • less specific fuel consumption

Additionally there are ecologically lower exhaust-fume emission values.

What is next?

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