It wasn’t long ago that turbocharging was something you did to make cars go faster.  Not anymore. Turbocharging is used on standard passenger cars today because it allows manufacturers to use smaller displacement engines than they could in the past. The reason they are doing this is that smaller engines offer better fuel economy and less emissions than their larger brethren do.

There is a problem, though. Your standard fixed-speed turbocharger, the type that has been used for decades, isn’t up to the task of boosting today’s engines. Engineers need to control the speed of the turbo more. This need has launched a new type of supercharger: the Variable Speed Turbocharger.

How Standard Turbochargers Work

Standard turbochargers are like miniature air pumps that are driven by exhaust gases.  They are built to drive air into the engine cylinders. The result is that engineers can get more power and higher efficiency out of a given size engine. Standard turbochargers are actually pretty old technology but today’s versions offer higher performance than the designers of the early one’s ever dreamed of.

Very Popular Today

Considerable emphasis is being placed on turbocharging these days for increased fuel economy and better emissions. As we mentioned before, turbocharging allows engineers to power cars with smaller engines which are more efficient and pollute less. As a result, Newark Chrysler of Newark, DE, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer says many automobile manufacturers are using them today.

A New Twist

The problem with regular turbochargers is that they are sort of dumb. They spin at a speed that is related to the velocity of the exhaust gases blowing out of the engine. in other words, there isn’t any control over the turbine speed. That’s why the concept of variable turbocharging is drawing so much attention throughout the industry. With variable speed turbocharging, engineers can optimize the amount of boost that comes out of a turbocharger so maximum power and efficiency are obtained over a wide range of RPM.

Who Makes Variable Turbochargers

One of the first to make a variable speed turbocharger is Antonov Corporation, a Ukrainian aerospace company. They introduced the world’s first 2-speed supercharger at the 2006 Global Powertrain Congress. It featured an automatic-shifting 2-speed drive system that controlled a standard centrifugal supercharger.

ProCharger, a Kansas-based performance company,  introduced their variable speed i-1 supercharger just a few years ago. This supercharger uses a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) between the driven pulley and a centrifugal supercharger shaft. An electric motor is used to alter the pulley sizes, effectively changing the drive ratio between the engine and supercharger.

The Torotrak V-Charge is designed for OEM applications where the vehicles engine computer would have complete control over the supercharger. The V-Charge leverages Torotrak’s expertise in gearless traction drives to develop a variable-speed drive that turns the supercharger.


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