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Happy Read The Thriving History Of Turbocharger Development In 3 minutes

The Embryonic Stage Of Turbocharger Technology

At the end of the 19th century, when Gottlieb Daimler was founded in 1885, the use of compressors to force air into the internal combustion engine (the predecessor of the supercharger). We know that as early as 100 years ago, industrially developed Europe and the United States began to find a way to allow air to enter the internal combustion engine more and help improve the combustion efficiency of the internal combustion engine.

However, the supercharger will produce a problem when it is used. Due to the need to use the crankshaft power as the power source of the supercharger, the output power of the internal combustion engine is wasted to a certain extent, which has a certain impact on the performance of the engine. In 1905, Alfred Büchi (1879-1959), an engineer working at the Swiss gebruder Sulzer engine manufacturing company, invented a compressor that used exhaust gas pressure to force the intake air, thereby increasing the output power of the internal combustion engine. But the technology took nearly 20 years to turn into reality.

Pic01 Alfred Buchi.jpg
Pic01 Alfred Buchi.jpg

The latest industrial technologies in the early 20th century were often the first to be applied in the military field. Especially in the decades after the outbreak of the two world wars, industrial technology has developed rapidly, laying a solid foundation for the advancement of turbocharging technology.

In the aviation field, since the early propeller engines also used reciprocating piston engines (only the number of combustion chambers was more than that of automobiles), a large amount of air and fuel were mixed to form a mixture during combustion. 

But at high altitude, as the altitude continues to rise, the air will become thinner and thinner, and the maximum climb altitude of the aircraft is also restricted (the higher the aircraft climbs, the less likely it will be detected by the ground, and the less likely it will be detected by the ground. anti-aircraft artillery hits). At this time, engineers thought of using additional machinery to force air into the combustion chamber to solve the aircraft’s power at high altitudes.

Although the supercharger technology was relatively mature then, the intake efficiency was low, and the crankshaft consumed a lot of work.

Two World Wars Drive Turbocharger Development

During World War I, French engineer Auguste Rateau first installed a turbocharger on a French fighter jet using a Renault engine. However, at that time, the turbocharger was not yet valued by the military’s top management. At that time, weapon manufacturers in various countries still focused their attention on the use of more powerful engines and more powerful machine guns.

Pic02 Breguet BR.19A2 Reconnaissance Aircraft.jpg
Pic02 - Breguet BR.19A2 Reconnaissance Aircraft

American aerospace engineer Sanford Alexander Moss had been working on gas turbine engines. In 1918, he first fitted a turbocharger to a V12 aircraft engine and broke the previous world record by flying over Pikes Peak in Colorado at an altitude of 14.000 feet (4300 m). The war was over just before the turbocharger was ready for widespread use.

Turbochargers can eliminate the detrimental effect of naturally aspirated internal combustion engines on engine power due to thin air at high altitudes. General Electric calls this supercharging system turbosupercharging. At the time, the most routinely used was the supercharger.

With the gradual maturity of turbocharger technology and the outbreak of the Second World War, turbochargers, which had been silent for a while in peacetime, also got a second opportunity for development. 

At this time, the fighter jet has gradually changed from the era of bi-wing wooden structure to the era of single-wing metal skin, the power of the engine is getting better and better, and the special turbocharger on military aircraft has gradually begun to be applied to civil aircraft, ships and trains The locomotive is on. American Airlines is the most widely used turbocharger, leading the leap forward in technology by General Electric Company of the United States. 

Turbocharged fighter jets in World War II included the B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, P-38 Lightning, and P-47 Thunderbolt. On the Axis side, the Luftwaffe also installed turbochargers on the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter.

Turbochargers Enter Civilian Use

With the end of the Second World War, many military technologies began to be gradually applied in mass production activities after the war. So what was the first car in the world to use a turbocharger? As early as before the start of World War II, supercharged engines had appeared in Europe and the Americas. 

In the early 20th century, there were Bentley, Ford and other cars with superchargers installed. But the first model to be equipped with a turbocharger propelled by exhaust gas should be the American Oldsmobile Jetfire produced in 1962 and the Chevrolet Corvair Monza made the same year.

In the European market, the earliest turbocharged model that can be verified is a 1.5-liter four-stroke V4 engine derived from the 1963 Ford Taunus 12M (Taunus 12M) after 1967. Even though Saab briefly used turbos for this car, it’s five years behind the Oldsmobile Jetfire, which is already in production in the United States.

Pic03 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire 1.jpg
Pic03 - 1962 Oldsmobile Jetfire

With the advent of the Saab 99 in 1968, Saab truly ushered in the era of mass production of turbocharged models. While Saab has always advertised itself as the world’s first turbocharger-equipped family car, it was 1978 when the Saab 99 Turbo was introduced. Compared to the BMW 2002 Turbo launched in 1973, it can no longer be called the first.

Pic04 1967 SAAB 96 Model.jpg
Pic04 - 1967 SAAB 96 Model
PIc05 1974 BMW 2002 Model.jpg
PIc05 - 1974 BMW 2002

In the 1980s, the development of automotive technology made the application of turbochargers more extensive. Whether it is small cars, large commercial vehicles or large machinery, turbochargers can be seen.

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