Turbocharger Durability and Materials

Hannu Jääskeläinen

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Abstract: The life of a turbocharger can be affected by such factors as thermal cracking, fatigue and/or creep. The most common material for turbocharger compressor wheels has been aluminum alloys. Other materials, introduced since the 1990s, include titanium alloys, as well as magnesium and stainless steel alloys. Turbocharger turbine wheels must withstand high temperatures, especially in gasoline applications. Common turbine wheel materials include nickel-based superalloys and titanium alloys.

Turbocharger Durability

Design Factors

The expected life of a turbocharger can be influenced by a number of factors. One categorization of turbocharger failures is as follows [2588]:

  1. Thermal cracking, creep or oxidation of parts
  2. Fatigue of rotating parts
  3. Structural failure of the turbocharger or attached parts
  4. Failure due to out of specification engine conditions
  5. Problems in the engine causing turbocharger failure

While many of the above failures are outside the control of the turbocharger designer, others can be avoided or minimized through the turbocharger design process or by observing application limits. Some parameters that can be limited to avoid the failures mentioned above include:

  1. Turbocharger speed
  2. Temperature
  3. Structural loads
  4. General ‘not to exceed limits’