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Why Diesel Engines Are Turbocharged?

Diesel engines are on the trajectory of becoming extinct in the near future. This is because diesel engines have a relatively high emission of harmful greenhouse gases. But this enables us to ask the question, why is diesel still in use in the first place? Well, diesel engines are more efficient than their petrol counterparts. Not only that, diesel engines offer more torque than their petrol counterpart. Well, keeping that in mind, before the diesels get completely extinct, let’s have a look at a fact. The fact that majority of the diesel engines in the market come with a turbocharger, but Why? Let’s dive right in.

The working of a diesel engine

1.5 l diesel CRDi
1.5 l diesel CRDi

Before answering the question, we need to understand a few basics and technical jargon about diesel and diesel engines. As you know, diesel engines do not come with spark plugs. Because the diesel doesn’t need a spark to ignite, instead, it uses a principle called compression ignition.

Honda i-DTEC Diesel Engine
Honda i-DTEC Diesel Engine

Diesel fuel has a low flash point. What is a flash point? Well, this is the lowest liquid temperature at which, under specific specified conditions, a liquid emits vapours in sufficient quantity to be capable of igniting a spark is known as a material’s flash point. This is lower than that of petrol. Also, the flash point of diesel is at around 52 degrees Celsius.

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Diesel engines require air compression to ignite the gasoline, and a greater air compression ratio causes the fuel to burn more quickly, increasing torque levels. The diesel engine’s longer strokes enable the piston to travel more, aiding in the torque.

But Why Turbo Charged?

Turbocharger Working
Turbocharger Working

In other words, in a diesel engine, the piston has to do more work to extract power from the fuel. Hence the compression ignition engines that are naturally aspirated are lethargic and take a lot of time to gain momentum.

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Along with that, diesel engines also have a lower peak RPM. This is to keep the NVH levels in check. Otherwise, the motion of the piston will generate high-frequency vibrations. And these vibrations can be catastrophic.

Hence to make diesel engines drivable in the city and other applications, they often come with forced induction.

Forced induction in diesel engines allows the engine to increase the peak power and torque. Not just that, a turbocharger in the vehicle also aids in the increase of the overall engine efficiency. So, it’s a win-win situation. After all, a turbocharger takes the waste energy from the exhaust gasses.

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So this is why 98% of the diesel engines used in automotive applications come with a turbocharger. Let us know in the comment section which engine do you prefer, a naturally aspirated petrol, turbo petrol or turbo diesel.

Utkarsh Bhardwaj
Utkarsh Bhardwaj
Technical Content Strategist at GoMechanic | Big Time Petrolhead with the passion for building cars and driving those beauties.


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