One turbocharger per cylinder. I am not talking about some crazy dragster prepared for under 6-second passes. This is an idea by Ford engine designer Jim Clarke who proposed a unique engine system with one turbocharger per cylinder. The aim is to increase the power of small engines while keeping the emissions down and, in essence, improving efficiency so much that governing bodies don’t order manufacturers to discard ICEs in favor of electric motors.
Something like this has been a part of engine evolution for the past twenty years. From one turbocharger to two turbochargers (even for really small engines). BMW even has a tri Turbo motor (quad as well), while Volkswagen installed electric turbochargers on its motors as well. All in the name of lowering emissions and improving power, while reducing engine size. Ford’s EcoBoost certainly falls well in this modern segment of turbocharged engines. Yet, this new Clarke idea may take it even further.
Two Successful Engineers Are Working On It
Jim Clarke concept engine apparently provides top power right from the low rpms. No turbo lag, therefore. Clarke worked on the idea with Dick Fotsch, former president of engine divisions at Navistar and Kohler. Obviously, they know their business. In this case, they are calling new concept engine a “synergistic induction and turbocharging.”
With two throttle bodies on each cylinder (one for each intake port), the system is designed to send air to the cylinders as fast as possible. On the other hand, turbochargers are set just after the exhaust ports. In this regard, Clarke suggested that the turbochargers have to be 20 percent smaller.
“Between the throttle and the intake valves, the typical engine has an intake-manifold volume roughly equivalent to the engine displacement,” Clarke says. “That takes time to fill when you open the throttle. The closer you put a turbocharger to the exhaust valve, the more energy reaches the turbine to accelerate it.”
Obviously, with improved turbocharger efficiency and more air in the cylinders, the gains will certainly be massive. That, however, is not the end mission. The mission is to make petrol engines more efficient, even more responsive and smoother. After all, the CAFE standards push us toward a 54.5-mpg fleet average which means that manufacturers have to invent new ways of improving efficiency-be it with emotors, or new ICE technologies.
For now, all of this is only a plan. If, however, “turbocharger-per-cylinder” ever comes to fruition, the price will have to go up.