3D Printed Turbocharger Boosts Pulsejet Performance

Pulsejets are a popular DIY build for the keen experimenter, much loved for their mechanical simplicity and powerful roar. However, it can be difficult to get them running smoothly and producing high amounts of thrust. In an ongoing quest to do just that, [Integza] has been iterating hard on his designs, recently adding an electric turbocharger to add some boost.

Like any combustion engine, adding more air means that more fuel can be burned for more power. The electric turbocharger is a perfect way to do this, using a powerful brushless motor to turn a radial compressor wheel to force high-pressure air into the pulse jet’s combustion chamber. [Integza] used a resin printer to produce the turbocharger compressor wheel and housing, which made producing the complex geometry a cinch.

Initial results were positive, with the pulsejet maintaining better combustion with the turbocharger activated. It does come with the drawback of requiring battery power to run, but it may be worth the tradeoff for added thrust. However, the fragile setup requires more refinement before a thrust test can be carried out. Up until now, [Integza] has made do with a set of bathroom scales; we imagine a spring force gauge or strain gauge might be in order. If you’re keen to build your own pulsejet without welding, consider the carbon fiber method used in this project. Video after the break.

34 thoughts on “3D Printed Turbocharger Boosts Pulsejet Performance

  1. Pretty sweet.

    Maybe get an automotive turbocharger, design things so some of the pulse jet exhaust spins the hot side (exhaust) turbine, and the intake turbine blows into the chamber? You may need a motor to spin it up initially, but it seems like it could work.

      1. It would be like a badly running jet engine, if it keeps the pulsed operation. I wonder if there’s any advantage over continuous combustion, like having greater efficiency or thrust at some range of air speeds.

  2. That’s not a turbocharger. The “turbo” part of that word means that the compressor is driven by a turbine, which is a device that extracts work from a flowing fluid and imparts it to a rotating shaft. With the compressor powered by the exhaust flow, a turbocharger doesn’t even need the valve arrangement of a pulsejet — plenty of people have turned them into jet engines just by adding a combustion chamber and some plumbing. But making a turbine survive life in combustion exhaust is no mean feat, and 3D printing one is still an awfully expensive proposition.

    1. Right, it’s technically a supercharger, even though most people would think that means a belt driven positive displacement supercharger, which is the default type nowadays, or something to plug a Tesla into.

      1. That remembers me of the hybrid turbocharger, Mercedes used (or uses ?) in his Formula one engines: A “normal” turbocharger with a strong brushless motor/generator on the shaft to extract power from the turbine, if it is in excess or spins the turbo up electrically to give extra boost.

    1. How about, you stick 3 on a spindle, with the nozzles slightly offset to spin the whole thing, and have a valve plate with one hole in it, that the blower blows through, and maybe gear the spindle to the blower so when it hits a few thousand RPM you can shut the ‘lectric off…

      1. I’m not sure either, I was just wondering how to increase the oxygen to increase the jet combustion. I don’t think so as long as you only use the LOX to increase the oxygen, not totally replace it.

  3. Tons of sellers on ebay have cheap (<$150) turbo chargers. Some models appear to even have the electric motor needed to drive the fan. Could be a great alternative to a 3d printed design.

    1. [Integza] likes to build things (and smash tomatoes), not buy things… and it’s faster to 3d print a new component that obviously melted away than to ship a replacement part.

  4. why not put the intake duct on the front of the pulse jet? as it moves through the air, you should get a high pressure flow if the intake geometry is suited to it. I’m always a little perplexed when people measure thrust of these things in a static test fixture since movement is quite critical to most jet designs (at least from my naive 10,000′ view of things)

  5. Pet peve. It’s a 3d printed supercharger. Turbos have a turbine using exhaust flow and pressure to spin the turbine that is connected to the compressor via a shaft. Turbocharging is a form of supercharging.
    What would have been cool to see is a 3d printed turbo out of ceramic.

    1. Right, the full name you yell at a turbo when it’s in trouble is “turbosupercharger” like the only time you hear your middle name, with the supercharger bit being the blower and the turbo bit being the exhaust energy recovery turbine.

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