Published on August 4th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Valeo Develops Lag-Free Turbocharger
French supplier Valeo has developed an electric turbocharger that it says eliminates “turbo lag.” The new turbocharger is powered by an electric motor instead of exhaust gases. When not needed, the turbo’s impeller, which pumps air and fuel into the cylinders, still spins at 10,000 rpm, so there is minimal hesitation or lag in engine response when the driver presses the accelerator pedal. But there are downsides: cost and power consumption. The unit requires 48-volt power, which means additional electronics under the hood. It also is a heavy user of electricity. Still, automakers are intrigued. Audi has been testing the electric turbocharger and is expected to be first to market the device. It recently tested the turbocharger on Pikes Peak in Colorado.
Audi R&D chief Ulrich Hackenberg hints at equipping production cars with both electric turbochargers and standard turbochargers powered by exhaust gases. Mercedes-Benz R&D chief Thomas Weber says the technology is “relevant” and a “valid option” when mated to 48-volt or higher voltage systems. “It is a real alternative to two-stage turbocharging,” Two-stage turbos use two fans one for low speeds, another for high speeds. BMW engine development manager Nikolai Ardey says the company is studying the technology but is looking at alternatives as well.