One of the most efficient ways to reduce the pollution and fuel consumption of an automotive engine is to downsize the engine, whilst maintaining a high level of power and torque. This is achieved by using turbochargers. In urban, and often in suburban, traffic conditions the engine power demand is weak in relation to the maximum power available, so the turbocharger runs at low speed. To appreciate and improve engine performance, it is necessary to know the characteristics of the turbomachinery in this functioning area, characteristics which are not given by turbocharger manufacturer. The reason for this lack of information will be explained and the experiments we are currently conducting at low turbocharger speed are presented. Experimentally, it has been demonstrated that the measured performances of the compressor are dependent on heat exchange (convection and conduction) and are also linked to the pressure and temperature of the lubricating oil. At the CNAM laboratory, the turbocharger test rig has been equipped with a special torquemeter, allowing rotation speeds of up to 120000 rpm, set up between the turbine and the compressor. The turbine is thus separated from the compressor and could be considered as a drive which provides mechanical power to the turbocharger (torquemeter + compressor + bearing unit). Temperature and pressure of the lubricating oil can be adjusted to an experiment’s requirements. The test bench lay out is described. To achieve accurate measurements and evaluate the influence of heat exchanges, tests have been carried out with the whole compressor thermally isolated and with preheated inlet air. The compressor can be assumed to be adiabatic, and the power given to the air flow can be calculated using the first law of thermodynamics. Mechanical bearing losses can be deduced from this calculation and torquemeter power, but also from measurements of lubricating oil flow, and oil temperature at inlet and outlet. The results of experiments for different lubricating oil temperatures and pressures and turbocharger speeds are presented. Real compressor characteristics curves are set up and a comparison of experimental mechanical power losses with a journal bearing CFD model is presented.

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