Picking the Right Turbocharger – Owen Developments
Motorsport Turbochargers and Engine Management 01865 821 062
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Picking the Right Turbocharger

Choosing a new turbocharger can be a daunting task, there is such a vast range of brands, models and options to choose from how can you begin to make a decision?

The Owen Developments technical sales team can narrow down the suitable range for you based on years of experience, testing and proven results. There are several different factors which are key in specifying a turbo for any given application; Does your application require a very fast responding turbo where torque would be the primary requirement, like a rally engine, or will it be an open circuit based set-up, requiring maximum horse power but at the sacrifice of low end performance? If the turbo is for competition use, do the regulations stipulate an air restrictor is fitted?

The most important and first questions the sales team will ask you are-

  1. Make, model and year of engine and number of cylinders?
  2. Engine size?
  3. RPM range?
  4. Does the car already have a turbo? What is the part number if so?
  5. What is the application of the vehicle (road, track, drag, drift)?
  6. Are you running in a certain class? What are the rules?
  7. What is the maximum BHP you wish to run?
  8. At what boost level do you want to make power?
  9. What fuel are you using?
  10. What exhaust flange fittings will you be using?
  11. Will you be running an internal or external waste gate set up?
  12. What is the engine intake; pressure and temperature?
  13. If known, the mass flow rate into the engine?

The answers to these questions give the big picture on what you want to achieve and are the basis of specifying a turbo. The questions get more specific from here on as sometimes all the requirements cannot be covered by a single turbocharger and a compromise must be reached.

The classic turbocharger compromise is power or response, as improving one directly affects the other. To increase the power a turbocharger can provide it must be able to flow more gas, but by making it easier for the gas to flow the turbocharger is taking less energy from the gas to ‘spool’ it, slowing the response. Having a smaller A/R turbine housing will help spool, but restrict the top end power a turbocharger can provide, with the reverse also being true.

There are ways around this compromise with the most notable being boost enhancement, also known as anti-lag. Anti-lag generates its own problems however by massively increasing EGTs (exhaust gas temperatures) and compromising the reliability of the turbocharger. There are turbine housings and shafts designed to help cope with the higher EGTs but are very expensive adding another factor to deciding on a turbocharger.

Owen Development’s technical sales team are on hand to guide you through picking the right turbocharger, contact them via email technical@owendevelopments.co.uk or phone 01865 821062.