Intellectual Property

Improved Turbocharger Unit with Significantly Reduced Surge Limit

Improved Turbocharger Unit with Significantly Reduced Surge Limit

Researchers at QUB have invented a novel design of turbocharger which typically lowers a turbocharger surge limit by 41%– enabling an engine to deliver high torque at lower engine speeds. The design uses a patent pending geometric feature at the inlet to generate helpful swirl from a recirculating flow and a variable position valve to deliver the swirl just when needed.


BackgroundIntellectual property turbo charger performance graph.  

Surge is an aerodynamic phenomenon that limits the minimum flow rate a turbocharger compressor can deliver, particularly at higher boost pressures.  Surge becomes a constraining factor when high pressures are required at relatively low flow rates, which corresponds to an engine operating at a high torque condition at low speed.


In the QUB turbo design, flow is reintroduced upstream of the compressor inlet only when needed through a variable position valve into an asymmetrical feature designed to produce the desired level of swirl.  The swirl in the inlet flow improves the flow alignment at the leading edges of the compressor blades helping to avoid stall and surge at low flow rates.  There is no flow recirculation in the normal part of the operating range.  So the maximum compressor efficiency and pressure ratio is not diminished by the recirculation system.   The compressor operation can thereby be optimized by the engine management system rather than being constrained by a fixed geometry.

Market Opportunity

Using the novel turbo, engines can be downsized and thus demonstrate improved fuel economy and reduced exhaust emissions while still being able to deliver good torque at low engine speeds, for example, during urban driving.  Turbocharger costs are increased by only around 10%.

The Queen's researchers are seeking partners for a joint development project with a view to licensing this technology.


Stephen Spence

Patent Status

This technology is the subject of an GB provisional patent application.


Project part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.


We have access to a range of potential funding mechanisms to support your business engage and exploit this IP including.

boosting-business Boosting Business through R&D is designed to help you ensure your business remains competitive and grows its market share. With support, you can invest in new products, services and processes, use design to improve your business performance, gain a better understanding of the technical, legislative and intellectual property issues you may face and access collaborative networks to access new business opportunities that might otherwise be beyond your reach.
ktp Knowledge Transfer Partnerships are based on partnerships between academic groups and companies who need access to skills and knowledge in order to innovate. The academic and industrial partners jointly devise and manage a two or three year programme to achieve the advances the company needs. This programme of work is carried out in the company by a KTP Associate and the resulting relationship can be very challenging and rewarding to all parties
qub-innovation-fund The Queen's University Belfast Innovation Fund (QUBIF) is a £1 million venture capital fund, set-up to invest in post Proof of Concept, pre-commercialisation spin-out companies. Funding rounds will be typically in the range of £50k to £200k and investments must be strongly related to the QUB research base.

Project Number

If you are interest and would like to find out more including potential funding mechanisms, please complete your details below