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These types of turbos are also sometimes referred to as Variable-Geometry Turbochargers (as with Holst’s VGT Turbos) or Variable-Turbine Geometry Turbochargers (as with BorgWarner’s VTG Turbos).

These turbos are highly efficient and very complex, this is because the variable vanes act as a sophisticated Engine Management System used for minimising turbo lag which allows for an increase in throttle responsiveness, particularly at low engine speeds.

This is done by altering the direction and speed in which the gasses impact with the turbine wheel.

This type of technology is used by many turbocharger manufacturers including; BorgWarner, Holst, IHI, Cummins and Mitsubishi but it is most commonly associated Garrett, the world's leading turbocharger manufacturer.


Movement of the vanes is controlled by the REA (Rotary Electronic Actuator) or SREA (Simple Rotary Electronic Actuator). Failure (or apparent failure) of the actuator is indicated by:


Defined simply, an actuator is a device that converts energy, which may be electric, hydraulic, pneumatic, etc., to mechanical in such a way that it can be controlled. The quantity and the nature of input depend on the kind of energy to be converted and the function of the actuator. Electric and piezoelectric actuators, for instance, work on the input of electric current or voltage, for hydraulic actuators, its incompressible liquid, and for pneumatic actuators, the input is air. The output is always mechanical energy.

Actuators are not something you would read about every day in media, unlike artificial intelligence and machine learning. But the reality is that it plays a critical role in the modern world almost like no other device ever invented.

In the industrial mechatronics systems, for instance, they are solely responsible for ensuring a device such as a robotic arm is able to move when electric input is provided. Your car uses actuators in the engine control system to regulate air flaps for torque and optimization of power, idle speed, and fuel management for ideal combustion.

Waste Gates

If there were no means to control boost pressure, it is possible through a series of events that the cylinder pressure could exceed safe limits for the engine design.

The wastegate is employed to control boost pressure via bypassing a controlled amount of exhaust gas from interacting with the turbine wheel. It consists of nothing more than a disk that closes against a passageway that redirects a portion of the exhaust flow.

When the passage is open, boost pressure is limited. When it is closed, the full potential of the turbocharger can be realized.

It must be recognized that every turbocharger is a sophisticated piece of engineering since there is a dedicated science to the shape and size of both the turbine and compressor wheels. The airflow and pressure potential are created by the design of the two wheels and, as with every aspect of engineering, there are compromises.

Compressor Housing

The compressor housing is where clean air is gathered and compressed before being forced into the engine - it houses the compressor wheel.

On modern turbochargers, this is usually manufactured from aluminium, and typically features a ‘volute’ or spiral shaped design, which helps to provide optimum airflow and air pressure to the engine.

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