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World’s first water cooled electric supercharger is revealed

Controlled Power Technologies (CPT) has launched what is believed to be the world’s first water cooled electric supercharger developed for ‘quasi continuous’ boosting of commercial diesel engines.

Known as Cobra, the electric supercharger is particularly relevant to Tier 4 Interim legislation that comes into effect this year for off road vehicles.

“The availability of this new air boosting technology is timely as diesel engine manufacturers face ever tighter exhaust emission regulations, which could adversely impact engine performance and especially fuel consumption without the right technical solution,” says Nick Pascoe chief executive for CPT. “We now have the means of producing the cleanest engines ever by delivering very quickly and precisely the mass of air necessary for optimum combustion, particularly during transient events, which helps avoid the need for expensive exhaust after-treatment. Electric supercharging is a new and exciting and as yet unexploited technology that will help to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, and thereby the cost of vehicle ownership. Cobra deploys robust and reliable switched reluctance motor technology and is easily packaged with the engine.”

The fully integrated electric supercharger including all control and power electronics has taken a decade of development and has worldwide patent protection.

Cobra is an acronym for Controlled Boosting for Rapid Response Applications. The unique product is a liquid-cooled switched-reluctance electrical machine with a sealed-for-life bearing system, coupled to electronics that are state-of-the-art, providing a high level of precision and digital control. Combined with a radial compressor connected to a low inertia rotor, the device accelerates within milliseconds to 60,000rpm, which is more than sufficient to deliver a high level of airflow and boost pressure with a high level of efficiency. And because it is water-cooled it has a high level of thermal stability, says CPT.

Cobra shares many elements of its design with CPT’s turbine integrated gas exhaust recovery system known as Tigers, which is currently under development for installation next year in a technology demonstrator part funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board. The Tigers’ electrical generator is currently running on a CPT engine dynamometer at 650oC but will eventually run at much higher temperatures.

“The aim with Cobra was to develop a 24 volt electrical supercharger to eliminate transient turbo lag, in other words be active for a few seconds or more but sufficiently robust to do so repeatedly without any thermal management issues,” says CPT’s program manager Andy Dickinson. “Cobra can handle the recurring transients of continuously variable engine loads without degradation, which is underlined by our ability to run it on test continuously and in the same boost mode for 30 minutes or more. So it will cope therefore even with an off-road digger continually demanding variable power and torque from its engine.”

According to Dickinson, the same critical factor of fuel consumption also applies to developers of big truck engines: “Commercial vehicle transport managers and off road operators certainly don't want to be wasting fuel and ultimately it’s always the metric they use for deciding whether emissions technology is cost effective or not. The benefits of Cobra to the engine developer and end user depend on the application. But if they’re running their engines continuously and need additional air for transient performance or exhaust after treatment, for example when purging diesel particulate filters and other forms of exhaust after-treatment for NOx reduction, should that become unavoidable with Tier 5 legislation, then Cobra can help without ruining fuel economy.”

CPT says Cobra could enable a 5 to 10% reduction in CO2 emissions when implemented in conjunction with engine downsizing and down speeding strategies, and potentially more when used in conjunction with alternative fuels.

13 September 2012


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