Valeo waves goodbye to turbo lag

Posted on Aug 5, 2014 by

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. Valeo’s Estes says the powerful electric motor can spool up the impeller to 70,000 RPM in less than a second, which eliminates turbo lag.

Valeo Electric Turbocharger

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. 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. They could come to market, he told Automotive News, by 2016. On the other hand,

Mercedes-Benz R&D chief Thomas Weber says the is “relevant and a valid option when mated to 48-volt or higher voltage systems. It seems like a real alternative to two-stage turbocharging.”

Valeo says the electric turbocharger can reduce fuel consumption by between 7 and 20 percent. Curt Estes, Valeo’s regional operations director of powertrain systems, said a 20 percent reduction is possible when the device is used on a vehicle equipped with regenerative braking, which captures the car’s kinetic energy and turns it into electricity.

Source: Automotive News

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