Since initially being developed at the start of the 20th Century the turbo charger has seen a number of technological improvements but still works in practically the same way as when it was first invented.

It has been on road cars since the 1920’s and its inclusion in an engine can substantially increase the horsepower of an engine without adding significant weight. Compared to a normally aspirated engine an engine with a turbo charger is not only more powerful but also more efficient as it uses fuel more efficiently; for these reasons turbo chargers are very popular items to have in an engine.

A turbocharger is made up of two main sections: the turbine and the compressor. Inside the turbine there is a housing and a wheel. The turbine housing guides exhaust gas through it which causes the turbine wheel to turn; the gas then exits the turbine housing through an exhaust.

The compressor also has a housing and a wheel but works in the opposite way to the turbine. The turbine and compressor wheel are attached and as the turbine turns the compressor wheel draws in air and compresses it. The compressor housing then converts the air into compressed air which is pushed into the engine, allowing the engine to burn more fuel to produce more power.

There are five basic reasons for using an engine turbocharger:

1. To increase horsepower output of a given displacement engine: Where the engine compartment of a machine is of a given size, a turbocharged engine can be used to provide increased horsepower without having to enlarge the engine compartment for a larger displacement engine.

2. To reduce weight: Turbocharged engines have more horsepower per Kilogram than non-turbocharged engines.

3. To keep down costs: Initial cost of turbocharged engines, on a dollar per horsepower basis, is less than for a naturally aspirated (N.A.) engine, and the differential increases with the rate of turbocharging. It all adds up to more horsepower per pound.

4. To maintain power at higher altitudes: The altitude compensator also falls in this category, giving vital machine productivity at high altitudes.

5. To reduce smoke: Turbocharging can be an effective way to reduce exhaust density by providing excess air. However, using a turbocharger does not ensure this, as many other components also affect exhaust density and these must be properly designed and matched to provide an acceptable smoke level.