Key elements: More than a decade of funded research into turbocharger design

Imperial College London have been partnering with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) since 2005 to improve turbocharger design

Long-term partnership with a world-leading manufacturer 

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) is a key collaborator with Imperial and has invested in a major partnership that began in 2005. The collaboration has had a significant impact on MHI, with substantial improvements in turbocharger design as a result of more advanced measurement techniques and simulation tools. 

MHI makes industrial machinery and equipment, including the manufacture of gas turbines, turbochargers and internal combustion engines. It is a global leader in R&D investment, spending £1bn in FY2016, enabling it to enhance its competitiveness, particularly in the energy and environment sectors. 

The Imperial-MHI partnership has to date mainly focused on improving technologies in enhanced turbochargers, and enhancing ways for evaluating them. It is led by Professor Ricardo Martinez-Botas, who heads up the Turbocharger Group and the Thermofluids Division in Imperial’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. 

Fruitful relationship

Imperial’s partnership with MHI has harnessed the expertise of Professor Martinez-Botas and his research group, enabling them to apply their knowledge and tools to solve a range of industry-led problems.  The most significant recent impact has come from a new turbine, which has improved performance under pulsation and led to improvements in engine level fuel economy.  The conventional radial turbine has been replaced with a modified turbine blade in a new volute that brings out the system’s potential under a pulsating condition.  A joint patent on the volute was filed in 2013 and series production began in 2016.  In the same year it received MHI’s Best Innovation Award.

The successful Imperial-MHI partnership has subsequently led to other concepts for MHI, including a new turbine nozzle and compressor volute.  More recently, a new testing procedure has been jointly implemented in the Turbocharge Technology Laboratory at Imperial, which could make significant improvements in our current understanding.  Other outputs include joint publications and PhD training.

Broader impact

In 2017, the new partnership expanded to cover work with the Combustion and Tribology Research groups.  For example, work with Professors Alex Taylor and Yannis Hardalupas has led to a research programme for combusting two phase flows.  A collaboration with Dr Amir Kadiric is working on an analytical model for understanding of contact behaviour in relation to efficiency and reliability improvement in mechanical components.

At the same time, a collaboration between MHI and the Centre for Low Carbon Transport in cooperation with Imperial College London at the University of Technology, Malaysia (UTM) has been launched to translate concepts from the Imperial-MHI partnership to realistic engine conditions.

Future collaboration

In addition to the impacts described above, the Imperial-MHI partnership has generated a healthy pipeline of future collaboration opportunities.  These include technology for further improvement of the turbocharger and turbocharging system for future powertrains.

 The above is an excerpt from an Imperial news article.  You can read the original news article in full here.