Need for Speed -- The Turbocharger Way
To increase the power from your car engine, you can increase the size of the engine, or increase the pressure of the air in the intake manifold using a supercharger or a turbocharger. Increasing the sheer size of your car's engine will give you more power, but will also result in higher fuel consumption (and costs) as well as a heavier engine.
So let's look at increasing the air pressure in the combustion chamber. A supercharger, driven by the engine, forces more air into the inlet manifold to generate more power at engine speed; however, since the supercharger is run off the engine, it actually uses some of the extra power it generates.
A turbocharger, on the other hand, achieves the same objective of forcing more air into the manifold, but it's driven by the waste energy from the exhaust manifold, not by the engine. It is basically a turbine and a compressor connected by a common shaft and supported on a bearing system. The turbocharger can convert waste energy from the exhaust manifold into compressed air, which it pushes into the engine. This allows the engine to produce more power and torque and improves the overall efficiency of the combustion process.
The first prototype of a turbocharged diesel engine in history was in 1915 by Dr. Büchi, Chief Engineer of Sulzer Brothers Research Department. Around the 1940's the aircraft gas turbine led to advances in materials, technology and design; which brought on the turbocharger development of radial turbines and led to the use of radial flow turbos on small automotive diesel engines. During the 1950's the major engine producers like Volvo and Cummins started to experiment with turbocharged engines for trucks. This led to a German engineer producing a more innovative compact design and in 1954 the engine producers were starting to offer a range of turbocharged engines. Pole position at Indianapolis in 1952 was won by a car powered by one of Cummins' turbocharger engines.
The benefits of using a turbocharger are increased engine power output, improved fuel consumption, improved emissions, and altitude compensation. So in the end a turbocharger is the way to go if you're looking for that little bit of speed in your ride.
About the Author: If you would like to know about turbochargers for your GM vehicle, please select this link: Chevy turbo kit.