Turbocharger performance and surge definition on a steady flow turbocharger test stand

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Turbocharger performance maps are vital components used in an engine-turbocharger matching process, a 1D engine performance development stage and a day-to-day operation of a turbocharged vehicle. The main aim of this thesis is the investigation of the turbocharger compressor performance when operating with an alternative to air substitute gas. This occurs, for instance, when turbocharging and low pressure exhaust gas recirculation (LP EGR) technologies are combined. To conduct the experimental study of the turbocharger performance with substitute gas a steady-state turbocharger test facility with a compressor closed-loop mode has been designed and built within this thesis by the author. Also, for the most accurate performance map determination an uncertainty analysis of a selected turbocharger performance map and an extensive study on surge have also been carried out. The sensor based uncertainty analysis has been a key aspect to help to understand the links between the accuracy of measured quantities and the overall uncertainty of the performance parameters. Such knowledge allowed for a selection of sensors targeting the most accurate data measurement. While investigating the uncertainty of the turbocharger performance maps heat transfer related efficiency uncertainty was also studied. Namely, a series of a semi-adiabatic tests were performed in the low turbocharger speed region which highlighted the issues related to a work and heat transfer separation and uncertainty of the extrapolated performance data. Also, a contribution to the turbocharger heat transfer modelling has been made by supporting the in-house lumped capacitance thermal node model with the 3D CHT (conjugate heat transfer) simulations [1, 2]. Finally, a study of a literature based compressor heat estimation method was performed as an alternative way of separating work and heat transfer (with low speed adiabatic mapping). The experimental surge study was conducted in phases and included the analysis and comparison of the low and high frequency pressure data gathered at various locations downstream and upstream from the compressor and temperature data collected at close distance from impeller eye. It has been concluded that the post-compressor located pressure measurement is preferable (than the pre-compressor pressure measurement) as the FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) magnitude of the peak frequency associated with surge is independent on the distance of the sensor from the compressor. The useage of the temperature sensor installed at the closest distance from the compressor entry allowed an observation of the near surge temperature rise (a result of the air recirculation). However, due to the inconsistent rate of the temperature rise across the various speed lines along with the poor response it offers no benefit from the surge avoidance point of view. The comparison of the available surge metrics revealed that the resultant surge lines were drawn at different operating points especially at the higher turbocharger speed lines where the surge development investigated by the rise of the low frequency FFT magnitude peaks was much more visible. The experimental tests performed in steady-state and pulsating flow conditions have indicated larger surge margin availability for the latter case [3]. Development of a turbocharger rig and gaining the confidence in turbocharger performance map generation allowed the author to carry out the investigation over compressor performance with a substitute gas. The study covered two cases of homogeneous and non-homogeneous gas introduction representing a well and a poorly mixed gases respectively. The substitute gas included various mixtures of CO2 and air and pure CO2. It has been highlighted that when comparing turbomachinery performance maps working with substitute gas non-dimensional speed and mass flow parameters shall be introduced. These parameters allow for the map corrections with respect to individual gas constant (R) and ratio of specific heats (γ). The experimentally obtained compressor performance maps with low CO2 concentration in CO2-air mixtures (3%, 5% and 10%) were successfully corrected with the use of non-dimensional speed and mass flow parameters. However, the compressor performance map obtained for the pure CO2 has revealed significant offsets in pressure ratio, efficiency, surge and choke flow locations. This is due to a significantly different γ. In the attempt of the further performance correction a method proposed by Roberts and Sjolander has been followed. As a result of such, a poor match between the measured and predicted values of compressor efficiency was achieved (n exponent = 0.8). A closer correlation was obtained if the n exponent was made a speed dependent variable. This observation has suggested that the measurement of compressor efficiency was affected by the heat transfer between the uninsulated turbomachinery components. Due to the time limitations this assertion has not been investigated experimentally. Realising this limitation, therefore, a series of adiabatic CFD simulations have been performed instead. These simulations have shown that for the case of pure CO2 a reasonable match between the simulated and predicted values of efficiency and pressure ratio was achieved. The experimental and numerical comparison of the compressor performance for homogeneously and non-homogeneously introduced substitute gas did not show any significant compressor performance changes. Finally, experimental study of selected configurations of the intake pipework and EGR mixing valve has shown that complex flow regimes can be developed within the LP EGR system affecting the compressor’s surge margin, efficiency and width of the map. This demonstrates that the aerodynamic disturbances of an EGR mixing valve may have the largest influence on the compressor map compared to all other factors.
Date of Award3 Nov 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorColin Copeland (Supervisor) & Chris Brace (Supervisor)


  • Turbocharger performance, surge, substitute gas, LP EGR, performance map uncertainty

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