Turbochargers as used on cars bear some similarities with jet engines. Fundamentally, both contain a turbine that harvests energy from hot gas, using it to spin a compressor which sucks in fresh air for combustion. Thus, turning a turbocharger into a jet engine is entirely possible, and [HRom] decided to have a crack at it.
The build starts with a turbo that appears to have been used on a diesel engine from the Volkswagen group. The first step was to cut the integral exhaust manifold off the turbo housing. A combustion chamber is then added which takes in fresh air from the compressor housing, and delivers hot combustion products to the turbine inlet. The homebrewed jet engine burns propane as fuel, introduced into the chamber via a nozzle.
The initial test failed as combustion was occurring at the turbine exhaust rather than in the combustion chamber, likely due to the lack of a proper ignition source inside the combustion chamber. A redesign employed a bigger combustion chamber built out of a fire extinguisher, with smouldering wood pellets inserted inside to get the injected propane burning.
The redesign works, and the turbocharger jet engine releases a thunderous scream as it turns at ever-increasing speed. However, with no oiling system or any way of controlling air or fuel flow in the engine, it eventually stops in a huge puff of smoke. Regardless, the engine did run in a sustained manner even if the ignition method was rudimentary.
We’ve seen similar builds before, and the rudimentary construction means they’re typically nowhere near being flight-weight engines. They are incredibly cool, however, and a great way to learn the basic principles of how jet engines work. Video after the break.
If you want to coax more power out of your car’s engine, a turbocharger is a great way to go about it. Taking waste energy from the exhaust and using it to cram more air into the engine, they’re one of the best value ways to make big gains in horsepower.
However, unlike simpler mods like a bigger exhaust or a mild cam swap, a turbocharger install on a naturally aspirated, fuel-injected engine often requires a complete replacement of the engine management system, particularly on older cars. This isn’t cheap, leaving many to stick to turbocharging cars with factory tuneable ECUs, or to give up altogether. In the 1990s, aftermarket ECUs were even more expensive, leading many to avoid them altogether. Instead, enthusiasts used creative hacks to make their turbo builds a reality on the cheap, and there’s little stopping you from doing the very same today.
In 2014, Formula 1 switched away from V8 engines, electing instead to mandate all teams race with turbocharged V6 engines of 1.6 litres displacement, fitted with advanced energy recovery systems. The aim was to return Formula 1 to having some vague notion of relevance to modern road car technologies, with a strong focus on efficiency. This was achieved by mandating maximum fuel consumption for races, as well as placing a heavy emphasis on hybrid technology.
Since then, Mercedes have dominated the field in what is now known as the turbo-hybrid era. The German team has taken home every drivers and constructors championship since, often taking home the crown well before the season is over. Much has been made of the team’s engine as a key part of this dominance, widely considered to be more powerful and efficient than the competition at all but a few select races in the last seven years, and much of the credit goes to the company’s innovative split-turbo system. Today, we’ll explore why the innovation was such a game changer in Formula 1.
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.
For those addicted to automotive thrills, there’s always an underlying lust for more power. For those chasing a bigger number, forced induction is one of the most effective ways to achieve it. In addition to more grunt, you get a whole bunch of fun new noises, too. For those with a naturally aspirated car, here’s how you go about converting to forced induction.
Superchargers and Turbos
When we talk about forced induction, we’re talking about forcing more air into the engine under pressure. With more air available, it’s possible to fully combust more fuel, creating more power. The two most common ways of doing this are supercharging and turbocharging. We’ll be using the common automotive vernacular here, so those eager to bicker about terminology from the early 20th century aircraft industry best do it in the comments. Continue reading “How To Get Into Cars: Forced Induction”→
Jet engines are known to be highly demanding machines, requiring the utmost attention to tolerances, material specifications, and operating regimes. If any of these parameters are ignored, failures can be catastrophic and expensive. Despite these exacting requirements, it is possible to build a jet engine in the home workshop – and using a turbocharger is a great way to do that. (Video also embedded after the break.)
[Tech Ingredients] does a great job of discussing the basic concepts behind the turbocharger jet engine build, and how various parameters impact performance and efficiency. Through the use of various rules of thumb, developed over years of experimentation by home builders and engineers alike, it’s possible to whip up a functioning engine without too much trial and error. The video breaks down and discusses the thermodynamics at play, as well as practical considerations like cooling and lubrication, in several easy to digest steps.