Pressure wave supercharger
A pressure wave supercharger (also known as a wave rotor) is a type of supercharger technology that harnesses the pressure waves produced by an internal combustion engine exhaust gas pulses to compress the intake air. Its automotive use is not widespread; the most widely used example is the Comprex, developed by Brown Boveri. Ferrari tested such a device during the development of the 126C Formula One car. The system did not lend itself to as tidy an installation as the alternative twin-turbocharger layout, and the car was never raced in this form. A more successful application was in the RF series diesel engine found in the 1988 Mazda 626 Capella; ultimately 150,000 Mazda diesel cars were fitted with a Comprex supercharger. Other users included Peugeot and Mercedes-Benz. The Greenpeace SmILE concept car uses a Hyprex pressure wave supercharger developed by the Swiss company Wenko AG. NASA uses wave rotors in experiments attempting to increase gas turbine efficiency. The wave rotor is placed between the compressor, combustor and turbine sections in order to extract more energy from the combustion process.
The process is controlled by a cylindrical cell rotor whose speed is synchronised with the engine crankshaft speed via a belt or chain. Individual cells alternately open and close the exhaust gas and fresh air apertures, when the aperture on the exhaust gas side is reached pressurized exhaust gas flows into the cell and compresses the fresh air there. As the cell rotor continues to rotate and reaches the aperture on the inlet side the compressed air flows to the engine. Before the exhaust gas can flow the aperture is closed again and the exhaust gas column is reflected before entering the engine. The exhaust gas exits at high speed sucking further intake air into the cell behind it repeating the process.
Energy exchange in the pressure-wave supercharger occurs at sound velocity, resulting in good response even at low engine speeds, a common downfall of turbocharged engines. It combines the advantages of mechanical and exhaust gas supercharging.
The Comprex system has two shortcomings; one, that the exhaust gases intermingles with the fresh air needed for combustion, leading to some recirculation of burnt gas. Secondly, this commingling also raises the temperature of the intake gas. Both of these are much less of a problem in a diesel than a petrol engine, hence the Comprex' rarity in petrol-engined applications.
- What is a Wave Rotor
- A Review of Wave Rotor Technology and its Applications including details of Comprex supercharger
- Ferrari, Hans Tanner & Doug Nye, 1985
- Wave Rotor Topping Cycles for Gas Turbine Engine
- Wave Rotor Technology Tested Successfully
- Renaux, Jean-Jacques (1984-02-23). "Volkswagen soulève un coin du voile: Wunderbar!" [VW raises the veil: Wunderbar!]. Le Moniteur de l'Automobile (in French) (Brussels, Belgium: Editions Auto-Magazine) 35 (789): 6–7.
- Chen, Jay (May, 2007). "The Comprex: The Other Compressor". Modified Mag. Retrieved Nov, 2012.