Thursday, January 29, 2009

Altitude turbocharging - normalizing

Altitude turbocharging (sometimes called "normalizing") is accomplished by using a turbocharger that will maintain maximum allowable sea level manifold pressure (normally 29 – 30 inches Hg) up to a certain altitude. This altitude is specified by the airplane manufacturer and is referred to as the airplane's critical altitude. Above the critical altitude, the manifold pressure decreases as additional altitude is gained. Ground boosting, on the other hand, is an application of turbocharging where more than the standard 29 inches of manifold pressure is used in flight. In various airplanes using ground boosting, takeoff manifold pressures may go as high as 45 inches of mercury.

Although a sea level power setting and maximum r.p.m. can be maintained up to the critical altitude, this does not mean that the engine is developing sea level power. Engine power is not determined just by manifold pressure and r.p.m. Induction air temperature is also a factor. Turbocharged induction air is heated by compression. This temperature rise decreases induction air density which causes a power loss. Maintaining the equivalent horsepower output will require a somewhat higher manifold pressure at a given altitude than if the induction air were not compressed by turbocharging. If, on the other hand, the system incorporates an automatic density controller which, instead of maintaining a constant manifold pressure, automatically positions the waste gate so as to maintain constant air density to the engine, a near constant horsepower output will result.

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