Honeywell Celebrates 100 Years of Turbo; 50th Year of
Garrett® Turbocharged Vehicle
Although one hundred years old, turbo technology today is helping address the twin imperatives of emissions control and consumer demand – contributing to the achievement of environmental targets in Europe, the US and Asia while providing the performance demanded by car users all over the world.
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Honeywell’s first turbocharger application on Caterpillar D9 Tractor 1955. Long considered and innovation leader field, Honeywell has played key role in making turbocharging a mainstream automotive technology over the last 50 years.
The early history of turbo technology
In 1905, Dr. Alfred Büchi, chief engineer at Sulzer Brothers Research and Development, deposited a patent for the first turbo — a power unit comprising an axial compressor, radial piston engine and axial turbine on a common shaft. An experimental turbocharger plant was opened at Winterthur in Switzerland in 1911 and in 1915 Büchi produced a prototype that demonstrated how the energy generated by the exhaust gases of aircraft could be used to counter the negative effects of diminishing air density at high altitude.
In 1919, General Electric successfully installed a turbocharger in a Lepere biplane’s Liberty engine, which powered the aircraft to an altitude record of 10,092 metres (33,113 feet). Even so, the engineering world did not fully recognize the potential of Dr Büchi’s modified development of a separately manifolded “pulse system” until the Second World War, when thousands of General Electric units were installed into high-altitude allied aircraft like the B-17 Flying Fortress. A Honeywell predecessor, the Garrett Corporation, supplied all-aluminum intercoolers for these aircraft, a commission that laid the foundations for the development of a global enterprise committed to technology and innovation.
Turbos move into automotive industry—50 years of Honeywell Turbo Technologies
The idea of turbocharging engines became common knowledge worldwide during the 1930s partly as a result of compressor race-cars and it was towards the end of this decade, in 1938, that the first turbocharged truck engine was built by the Swiss manufacturer Saurer.
The 1950s marked Honeywell’s initial involvement in turbocharging when the Caterpillar Tractor Co. approached the Garrett Corporation to help them manufacture higher-horsepower, heavy-duty earthmoving equipment – and the T02 turbocharger was tested to great success, eventually debuting as T15 in the D9 tractor in 1955. This success prompted the Garrett Corporation to launch the AiResearch Industrial Division – a business dedicated solely to the design and manufacture of turbochargers. It was a significant milestone in the modern automotive turbo era.
Automotive turbo technology comes to maturity
While Dr Büchi was the “father” of turbocharging, Cliff Garrett took the technology to a new level, creating mass-market automotive appeal for the technology. In 1961, the automotive industry took its first tentative steps into the world of passenger vehicle turbocharging when the Garrett® T05 was developed for the Oldsmobile F85, which made its appearance in 1962.
For passenger cars, the 1970s proved to be a turning point for the turbo industry. The Porsche 911 Turbo (KKK turbo with Garrett® wastegate) was unveiled in 1975, and in 1977 the Saab 99 brought turbo technology to a wider audience with a 2 liter turbocharged gasoline car that achieved the same level of performance as a normally-aspirated 3 liter engine. This was followed by the Mercedes 300 Turbo Diesel, which offered car drivers fuel efficiency and impressive driveability. Buick then announced that the 1978 Buick Regal and Le Sabre sports coupes would be turbocharged. In the last 20 years, manufacturers have launched model after model of increasingly sophisticated turbocharged passenger cars.
In the truck arena, the Garrett® T04 turbochargers were first adopted in the late 60s by Deere farm tractors. The T04 model later found its way into more and more applications as engine manufacturers recognized the benefits of better performance, greater torque and improved fuel efficiency. By the mid 1970s the mass-market turbo era for trucks was well underway – today just about every commercial diesel vehicle is equipped with turbochargers.
The turbo — more relevant than ever to modern needs
Turbochargers harness and recycle the energy produced by automobile engines, by using exhaust gas energy (speed and heat) that would otherwise be lost and transforming it into power. As a result, turbocharged engines deliver significant fuel cost advantages over their naturally-aspirated counterparts. Because a turbocharger delivers more air to the engine, fuel combustion is easier, more thorough and therefore cleaner.
For gasoline passenger cars, where the trend is for smaller displacement engines, turbos contribute to CO2 reduction by delivering 10-20% better fuel efficiency than a non-boosted car of equal power. In turbo diesel vehicles, the fuel efficiency gain is 30-50% better than a non-boosted gasoline vehicle. These gains help meet the increasingly demanding emissions standards being applied in the US, Europe, and Asia.
Looking to the future
Modern turbochargers have completely changed the perception of passenger car diesel engines, and the technology continues to be the major driver of the trend towards diesel in Europe — where approximately one in two cars is now a diesel. The technology continues to break new ground — the latest being the dual-stage turbo, a key technology for trucks, that uses two turbos working together to further improve engine efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and diminish emissions.
The automotive industry of the future will demand increasingly sophisticated air management systems, even in alternative powerplants like fuel cells. Turbo technology may require electrical assistance and more sophisticated sensing and information processing to deliver performance that continues to satisfy the demands of the consumer while meeting the needs of the planet.
Honeywell’s Garrett® turbochargers are products of Honeywell Transportation Systems. With $4.3 billion in revenues in 2004, Honeywell Transportation Systems also manufactures Bendix® brake products, Fram® filters, Prestone® antifreeze, Autolite® spark plugs and Holts® automotive products
Honeywell International is a $26 billion diversified technology and manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; automotive products; turbochargers; and specialty materials. Based in Morris Township, N.J., Honeywell’s shares are traded on the New York, London, Chicago and Pacific Stock Exchanges. It is one of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is also a component of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. For additional information, please visit http://www.honeywell.com