Turbocharger Design and Industry Usage Discussion

An opportunity to discuss turbocharger usage and design with Softinway engineer Ursula Shannon in a question and answer format:

What are some of the major current turbocharger design challenges?

When it comes to turbocharger design, there are two challenges that engineers generally face. “Turbo lag” and turbo boost power at varying engine RPMs. “Turbo lag” is the time that it takes for the engine to produce enough exhaust to start the turbocharger “working”. This can vary greatly depending on engine size, turbocharger geometry, exhaust output etc. Ideally, engineers want to reduce this “Turbo lag” by as much as possible in any given situation, as during that time, the exhaust is “wasted” in a sense. Finding the most efficient configuration with all of the parameters in mind can be a very challenging scenario from a design perspective.

The turbo boost design challenge is one of efficiency at variable exhaust outputs. A smaller charger for example will start to boost at lower engine speeds while a larger one will start to boost at engine speeds. The trade off however is that a smaller turbo will start to create what is known as back pressure at higher speeds, and this results in a loss of potential power. A larger turbocharger, will be able to create more overall boost at higher speeds, however the “Turbo Lag” is more pronounced as more engine exhaust is required. Minimizing these trade offs is another key challenge in turbocharger design.

Finally, the process of turbocharger design process itself is complex, and requires highly specialized software such as our own here in Softinway (AxSTREAM).

Turbocharger blog 3

AxSTREAM Turbocharger Design Software ( Flowpath Design and Optimization )

turbocharger blog 2

AxSTREAM Turbocharger Design Software (Compressor 1D Design and Analysis)

What are some design changes do you see coming to turbochargers in the future?

As I mentioned some of the challenges engineers face in turbocharger design, currently many technologies and methods are being developed to alleviate some of the issues faced.

Two stage turbochargers are good example of trying to offer a solution to the boost powers at varying engine outputs, using a smaller turbocharger that operates at low RPMs and a larger turbocharger that operates at higher RPMs.

Electronic energy storage setups are currently being developed and used in European race cars which uses the output side of the turbocharger as a sort of generator which stores energy in a battery from turbocharger operations and acts as a boost during a turbocharger’s lag period.

Continue reading “Turbocharger Design and Industry Usage Discussion”

Design Considerations in Turbochargers (Part 1 – Incidence)

A turbocharger (TC) has to provide a required pressure ratio for efficient combustion and operation of an internal combustion engine (ICE). The turbocharger consists of a turbine and a compressor sides on the same shaft. The turbine utilizes the energy of exhaust gases while the compressor forces the air into the engine. The compressor with a wide operating range is a strict requirement in the automotive industry because the unit has to operate across all of the ICE regimes.

Even though any compressor has a design point, the ability to operate at low and high mass flows is critical for TC compressors. To satisfy the operating range requirement, a designer tries increasing mass flow at choke and decreasing mass flow at surge. This is quite a challenge. For smaller mass flow rates, the impeller outlet and diffuser should be optimized. The choice of a vaneless diffuser is always justified by increased flow range at the cost of efficiency.

To increase the right-most mass flow limit, a designer optimizes the compressor inlet. The common practice is to design blades with large inlet metal angles. Increase in inlet angles open larger area for the flow to pass. This, in turn, leads to large incidence angles at design point. Therefore, many TC compressors are designed with large positive incidence in the design point. The incidence angle increases for every speedline going toward the surge line. Incidence distribution on a TC compressor map is shown in the figure below. It is equal to +12 deg (with respect to tangent) in the design point.

Fig. 1 Incidence on the TC compressor map
Fig. 1 Incidence on the TC compressor map


Blog - incidenceDesign point: An operating condition where a compressor reaches maximum efficiency

Compressor Map: Pressure versus mass flow characteristic at different rotational speeds and isoefficiency contours

Speedline: Dependence of pressure on mass flow rate for a given shaft speed

Surge: Left-most point on a compressor map for a given shaft speed

Choke: Right-most point on a compressor map for a given shaft speed

Incidence: The difference between inlet flow and metal angles. If an incidence is small, the flow has less resistance to enter the impeller.

Source: http://www.turbobygarrett.com/turbobygarrett/compressor_maps

New Release: AxCYCLE v. 4.0

We have just released the newest version of AxCYCLE, our software tool for thermodynamic cycle design and analysis. AxCYCLE 4.0 has some brand new features that will inevitably aid you in designing optimal Gas, Steam, Combined, Turbocharger, Supercritical CO2, Organic Rankine, and Waste Heat Recovery Cycles.

Take a look at the latest updates and additions:

Turbine Efficiency Calculation
In previous versions of AxCYCLE, efficiency was an input parameter that needed to be changed manually for each off-design condition. The Calculated Efficiency option will automatically recalculate the efficiency for off-design conditions.

blog - axcycle 4.0

New Components
Several new components were added to the AxCYCLE library for more sophisticated and customizable cycles.

Bearing: Used to simulate mechanical energy losses in bearings. The estimated mechanical losses are assigned as a power value and are accounted for in the total energy balance

Gearbox: Used to simulate the mechanical energy transfer between two shafts considering mechanical energy losses in the gearbox. These losses are measured using a gearbox efficiency value.

End Seal: Used to simulate seal leakage. The value of the leakage depends on the difference between the upstream and downstream pressure.

Steam Cycle Builder
AxCYCLE’s new wizard for the creation of basic steam cycles. It can be used for steam cycles with regenerative heating, optional moisture separators, and re-heaters. The Builder creates a cycle diagram with the correct fixed conditions and initial values, meaning the generated cycle is ready for calculation! It does all of the work for you!

Learn more about AxSTREAM and AxCYCLE on our website, or email us at info@softinway.com to find out exactly how we can help with your next turbomachinery project.

Turbochargers in Formula 1

The history of turbochargers in Formula 1 is pretty fascinating. Turbochargers were initially introduced in 1905, applied to large diesel engines in the 1920’s and found their way into commercial automobiles in 1938. However, it took a few more decades for the turbochargers to be used in Formula 1 car racing.

When Renault decided to enter the sport in 1977, they started their engines based on the novel turbocharger concept. As one would expect, their first design suffered from constant reliability problems through all the races it competed in. As Renault focused their development entirely on the engine, the car’s aerodynamics worsened; it suffered a huge turbolag under acceleration, and when the boost finally triggered the tires were not able to handle it [1]. “So the engine broke and made everyone one laugh”, Jean-Pierre Jabouille, the driver, admitted in an interview. At the time, everyone was looking at the turbo engines as something that no one would ever hear about again.

MMR, twin turbocharged GT500 V8 engine, from Mustangs Daily [3].
MMR, twin turbocharged GT500 V8 engine, from Mustangs Daily [3].
From theJUDGE13 [2].
From theJUDGE13 [2].






Continue reading “Turbochargers in Formula 1”

Innovative Boost of Larger Internal Combustion Engines

The last few decades have brought with them a dramatic increase in the development and use of turbochargers in automobiles, trains, boats, ships, and aircrafts. There are several reasons for this growth, including rising demand for fuel efficiency, stricter regulations on emissions, and advancements in turbomachinery design. Turbochargers are appearing more and more and are replacing superchargers.



Turbochargers are not the only turbomachinery technology growing in popularity in the marine, automobile, and railroad industries. Organic Rankine Cycles are being applied to take advantage of the exhaust gas energy and boost engine power output. ORCs, a system for Waste Heat Recovery, improve the overall efficiency of the vehicle, train, or boat, and reduce specific emissions.

As the size of the engines we consider increases, there is more heat available to recuperate, and more potential WHR systems to use. For instance, we can consider different combinations of these systems with both non-turbocharged and turbocharged engines. We are able to design and compare engine boost system combinations, with and without a turbocharger, with and without a blowdown turbine, and with and without a WHR system, at the cycle and turbine design levels.

In our upcoming webinar, we will do just that. We will design different combinations for larger ICEs and compare the results. This webinar will also cover introductions to these systems and application examples for supplementary power production systems in the automotive and marine industries.

We hope you can attend! Register by following the link below.



Goodbye February, Hello March!

keepcalmandenjoytheweekendHello all you hardworking professionals!

We at SoftInWay want to wish everyone a happy, healthy weekend as we draw February to a close – we have all earned this weekend, we’ve worked hard all week. Right?

But the excitement doesn’t stop there. Come Monday morning, we have a new, clean slate to fill with ideas, projects, services and awesome opportunities for you! Continue reading “Goodbye February, Hello March!”

At a Glance – Turbochargers


With the ongoing movement toward global environmental protection, regulations related to the exhaust emissions and fuel consumption of automobiles are being strengthened. To cope with these requirements, turbochargers are an effective tool to improve fuel consumption and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, by reducing the engine weight and friction loss.

Since a turbocharger supplies compressed air to an engine, it can reduce the engine displacement relative to an atmospheric engine for the same power. Variable geometry turbochargers, which can control the boost pressure according to the engine operating conditions, are becoming increasingly popular, creating a demand for a centrifugal compressor with a wide and stable operational range. Continue reading “At a Glance – Turbochargers”