Electric Turbochargers: Not Just For Tuner Magazines?

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler

Back in the heyday of import tuner magazines, there was an ever-reliable advertisement for some kind of “electric turbocharger”, generally the kind seen above. Much like the “10x pheromones”, one couldn’t help but wonder who was buying enough of them that buying ad space was worthwhile.

As dubious as those iterations may have been, the electric turbocharger may become a real technology used on the engines of the future. Valeo, a major supplier, is apparently readying an electrically-driven turbocharger that it says will be completely free of any lag.

While Audi is planning on using an exhaust-driven turbo with an electric motor to help spool the turbo faster, the Valeo unit is fully electric. But Automotive News reports two major concerns. The new electric turbos will consume lots of electricity, and they will only be ready for prime time when vehicles use 48-volt electrical systems.

Derek Kreindler
Derek Kreindler

More by Derek Kreindler

Join the conversation
7 of 67 comments
  • PandaBear PandaBear on Aug 07, 2014

    With the consumption of that much electricity when turned on, why not just put the power down via electric motor? Oh wait, that'll be a hybrid. I think the only way for this to work is if it is a compress air pump and storage. You pump air into storage (electric or via turbo), cool it, and then release it when you need the boost.

    • See 2 previous
    • Nickoo Nickoo on Aug 07, 2014

      You're talking about a jet assist. Its already done in my industry for when the turbo needs to provide an instant boost. Doesn't make sense in cars as they don't carry onboard compressors.

  • Slow_Joe_Crow Slow_Joe_Crow on Aug 07, 2014

    The Audi project to use a motor to eliminate lag is appealing but an electrically powered supercharger seems like spitting in the wind of thermodynamics. How about turbo-compounding as used in some aircraft engines?

  • Beerboy12 Beerboy12 on Aug 07, 2014

    Well... if power steering and air conditioning have gone electric, why not the turbo / super charger?

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Aug 08, 2014

    An axial flow compressor would be far more efficient when working in conjunction with an electric motor. With an axial flow compressor it will be far easier to control the airflow through the compressor at each stage using CVG's. I really don't think generating additional energy and negating the use of existing/wasted energy is a smart move. What I do imagine is the augmented energy from the electric motor will only be available until sufficient exhaust flow is available. Once this occurs I would suspect the boost to the supercharger will then become a turbo charger. The electrical energy will only be required for short durations.