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How does a Turbocharger work?

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A turbocharger works as an auxiliary power house for your automobile. Located between the air cleaner and the engine intake manifold, it drives the centrifugal compressor wheel. It comprises of a turbine and a compressor connected by a shaft supported on a bearing system. A well designed high quality turbocharger not only increases the engine power output, but also exploits the benefits of altitude compensation.

The primary job of a turbocharger is to compress the air that flows into a diesel engine, thus allowing more air into the engine cylinder. The engine burns; air and fuel to generate mechanical power. The more air and fuel it burns, the more power it produces.TurboCharger

The turbine wheel and the collector; commonly referred to as a ‘housing’, are two important components of the turbine. The housing guides the exhaust gas into the turbine wheel. As the exhaust gas passes through the blades of this wheel, its energy causes the turbine to rotate. This gas then leaves the turbine housing through the exhaust outlet.

The compressor on the other hand; is divided into two sections, the impeller; also known as a compressor wheel and the compressor housing. A forged steel shaft connects the compressor wheel to the turbine. As the compressor wheel rotates, air is drawn in, and as the blades rotate at a high velocity, it gets compressed. The housing converts low pressure and high velocity air flow into a high pressure and low velocity air stream. This process is known as diffusion.

The turbocharger uses the exhaust flow from the engine to spin the turbine, and this in turn spins the air pump. The turbine is connected to the exhaust, and it spins at a speed of 200000 rpm; hence, the temperature in the turbine remains high. Air flows into the compressor at atmospheric temperature; however, compression causes the air temperature to rise. This air heats up to 200 Degree Celsius, when it leaves the compressor.

The turbocharger bearing is lubricated by feeding oil into the bearing housing through the journal bearings and thrust system. The oil acts as a coolant, controlling the heat generated by the turbine. The journal bearings float amidst the films of oil. As the bearing clearances are very fine, there are chances of blockages in these holes. These blockages however need to be avoided as they can cause serious damage to the turbocharger.