A significant difference between a turbocharged diesel engine and a traditional naturally aspirated gasoline engine is the air entering a diesel engine is compressed before the fuel is injected. This is where the turbocharger is critical to the power output and efficiency of the diesel engine.

It is the job of the turbocharger to compress more air flowing into the engine’s cylinder. When air is compressed the oxygen molecules are packed closer together. This increase in air means that more fuel can be added for the same size naturally aspirated engine. This then generates increased mechanical power and overall efficiency improvement of the combustion process. Therefore, the engine size can be reduced for a turbocharged engine leading to better packaging, weight saving benefits and overall improved fuel economy.

How Does a Turbocharger Work?

A turbocharger is made up of two main sections: the turbine and the compressor. The turbine consists of the turbine wheel (1) and the turbine housing (2). It is the job of the turbine housing to guide the exhaust gas (3) into the turbine wheel. The energy from the exhaust gas turns the turbine wheel, and the gas then exits the turbine housing through an exhaust outlet area (4).

The compressor also consists of two parts: the compressor wheel (5) and the compressor housing (6). The compressor’s mode of action is opposite that of the turbine. The compressor wheel is attached to the turbine by a forged steel shaft (7), and as the turbine turns the compressor wheel, the high-velocity spinning draws in air and compresses it. The compressor housing then converts the high-velocity, low-pressure air stream into a high-pressure, low-velocity air stream through a process called diffusion. The compressed air (8) is pushed into the engine, allowing the engine to burn more fuel to produce more power.



  1. The turbine wheel
  2. The turbine housing
  3. Exhaust gas
  4. Exhaust outlet area
  5. The compressor wheel
  6. The compressor housing
  7. Forged steel shaft
  8. Compressed air
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