The New Measure Of Performance: Death Of The Naturally Aspirated Engine

Feature

The genius of Mercedes F1 explained.

After discussing how Koenigsegg is leading the turbocharged engine revolution, we take a look at Mercedes F1's revolutionized turbocharger application. While splitting the compression and turbine units on opposite sides of the engine block (connected by a shaft running through the engine block) seems straightforward, the implications of this setup were vast. Turbochargers increase horsepower output per liter through the compression of ambient air prior to cylinder entry.

Conventionally, as air becomes compressed, it also increases in mean temperature, due to the compressor and turbine being housed adjacently, and is cooled through an intercooler before entering the engine.

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Reduction of the compressed air temperature is vital for maximizing performance because the internal combustion engine is a volumetric device; that is, a fixed volume of air is admitted into the combustion chamber with each turn of the engine. Contrarily, power development is dependent on mass, not volume, so the turbocharger and intercooler work together to achieve the highest air density for the engine to produce the most power. Here’s where Mercedes genius shows: By splitting the compressor and turbine wheels across the engine block, the air is allowed to stay much cooler during the compression process.

In turn, this reduces the amount of intercooling needed and more efficiently routing the air to the cylinder, leading to an overall decrease in weight and turbo lag and an increase in power. An increasing number of engine manufacturers are forgoing naturally aspirated configurations in favor of turbocharging. With technology to eliminate turbo lag and the potential efficiency and performance to be reaped, can you really blame them? Aside from the sound they produce, leave a comment below about why you think car companies shouldn’t transition away from NA engines.

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