BMW has applied for a patent on a new electric turbocharger, and industry enthusiasts speculate that the technology is destined for use in the next version of the M3. This new design appears to be the most advanced solution yet to the issue of turbocharger lag at higher RPMs. BMW has been working on this performance issue ever since it began to regularly employ turbochargers in factory power plants.
The patent application for the new technology was filed in Germany. The BMW engineers have created a new kind of turbo charger which uses a small electric motor which synchronizes with a more conventional turbo charger. This design allows the electric motor to power the turbo’s turbine as the device shifts from idle to load. In the process, turbo lag is dramatically reduced.
It is speculated that the patent could be put to market use right away in the next gen M3, which is expected to hit the market sometime in 2014. The new technology represents a big leap forward in addressing turbo lag, which is defined as the time it takes for a turbo charger to spool up.
The electric turbo boosts fuel efficiency by keeping the engine running at its optimal operating rate, while also boosting performance by reducing the turbo lag. While BMW has not announced specific production plans for the new technology yet, it is likely that it will show up in the high performance models first as a way of defraying the cost of development. However, since it is a fuel saving technology it’s likely that eventually it will show up in lower end models as well.
Automobile enthusiasts are excited over the new patent application, as it represents the first real solution to the problem of turbo lag which has plagued turbo chargers from the start. The specifics of the patent application are quite technical, but a general summary is that the system utilizes a series of clutches along with an electric motor to significantly minimize turbo lag.
Each time the driver pushes the accelerator, the electric turbo charger motor will spool up the turbo which will provide more optimal performance. When the electric motor is not needed, it will switch over to function like an alternator and recharge its own battery. Simultaneously, the motor controls the turbo speed at an optimal level so the need for a wastegate is eliminated.