The next Mercedes-AMG car models will enjoy the same hybrid technology as Formula 1, to improve the performance of the turbocharger with the exhaust gases.
Formula 1 has always been the showcase for new technologies, some of which have ended up in street cars; although in recent times, this has not always worked in their favour.
But whether you love them or hate them, it’s undeniable that the hybrid engines of Formula 1 are an incredible technological achievement. With a V6 Turbo combustion engine of only 1.6 liters, it has exceeded 1,000 horsepower thanks to the electric power generation systems, the MGU-K and MGU-H.
A turbo based on the Formula 1
The MGU-K is what used to be known as KERS and allows us to obtain energy from braking; it is something that many commercial electric and hybrid cars already do to gain some battery power on our journeys.
The MGU-H is somewhat more innovative, converting the thermal energy of the heat engine’s turbocharger into electrical energy; and this is precisely what Merceces-Benz has managed to implement in a new turbo for street cars, in collaboration with Garrett.
The new turbocharger is based on the same idea as the MGU-H in Formula 1, but instead of bringing more power to the wheels, this system will be used to accelerate the turbo and eliminate the dreaded ‘lag’.
A turbocharger works when exhaust gases move a turbine, which in turn activates a compressor that compresses the air before it enters the engine’s combustion chamber; in this way, the proportion of oxygen is higher and the resulting explosion is greater, increasing power.
The problem is that, at low revolutions, the turbo doesn’t work because the exhaust gases don’t go fast enough to move the turbine; this is known as ‘turbo lag’, because usually the power of the turbo comes suddenly after a certain amount of revolutions.
Solution to turbo lag
Mercedes and Garrett’s solution eliminates turbo lag by implementing a tiny electric motor between the turbine and the compressor; it is capable of moving the compressor even at low revs, and is controlled by a 48-volt electric system. Its cooling can be integrated into that of the combustion engine itself.
The new turbocharger can run at up to 170,000 rpm, but more importantly it runs at low revs, so we’ll have more power and torque available throughout the entire acceleration period, not just at the end.
The obligation to use hybrid engines has been heavily criticized by the fans, especially for a fragility that has resulted in more than one title contender dropping out. But at least it looks like it may have inspired a good solution to a classic Turbo car problem.