A recent patent was filed and published by the US Patent and Trademark Office for Hyundai and Kia to develop a high-compression, twin-supercharged, four-cylinder engine.
Typically, we don’t see two superchargers in an engine, and engines that use them or use two turbochargers often have more cylinders in order to be high-performance engines, but that’s not the case with this Hyundai patent filing. Instead, the goal of Hyundai appears to be the creation of a more efficient engine for the smaller cars and SUV that are part of the Hyundai and Kia lineups on the market.
Avoiding the Typical Drawbacks of a Turbocharger
Turbochargers are heavy and operated mechanically which required time for them to spool up and be useful. This operation is called turbo lag and with a limited compression ratio and the weight involved, turbochargers do have drawbacks that superchargers don’t have. This means a movement from turbo engines could make sense, but history has told us that superchargers are more expensive and often only found in the high performance or luxury models that typically require a much higher price for us to have the drive we want to on the road. Although, Hyundai has used turbocharged engines in many of its offerings, even in models such as the small Elantra sedan; including the ECO and Sport trims.
The Benefits of a Supercharger
The comparisons between the two items that are built to add more power to the engine are like comparing apples and oranges. a supercharger is lighter, allows for quicker responsiveness to avoid the lag and much higher compression. The patent filed shows a setup that uses two superchargers in the built to make it easier to have the low and middle speed region of a vehicle be as powerful and efficient as possible, making for a fuel savings. This could lead to an alternative to the hybrid and electric powertrains that are becoming more popular than ever before.
Another benefit of adding a supercharger over a turbocharger is the design of the engine. The ability to have more flexibility in the design could allow the team to reduce manufacturing costs of the vehicle because the mechanical turbocharger would be removed which takes up a lot of space under the hood and adds a great deal of weight. A supercharger is powered up by electricity, making it more efficient and effective at giving the desired results. In this case, the desired results are smoother and more efficient operation of the engine that’s used.
Other Ways Hyundai is Looking at Engine Tech
Hyundai is also experimenting with four-cylinder engines that could benefit from cylinder deactivation as well. This would be the case in low-speed and low-load conditions, but the deactivation of two of the cylinders could certainly save fuel. The goal is to squeeze out as many miles as possible from the gasoline used. New regulations require automakers to offer better fuel mileage numbers across their lineup and improved engine technology could be the right way to make this happen. These new patents are just the beginning for Hyundai to move toward a leaner burn in their gasoline engines.