ABB Anniversary Award Honors Turbocharging Patent

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Published Nov 16, 2015 10:25 AM by The Maritime Executive

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, has announced the winners of a cash prize essay competition associated with its celebrations marking 110 years of turbocharger innovation and development.

On 16 November 1905 Swiss engineer Alfred Büchi patented the world’s first turbocharger for BBC, the precursor company of today’s ABB. Since then, ABB has consistently pioneered development of the turbocharger technology now in constant use over a range of industries. Turbochargers are deployed across the globe on ships, railway locomotives, freight vehicles, heavy construction equipment and agricultural machinery, and in generating sets and power stations. More than 200,000 ABB turbochargers are in daily use to raise power output, lower emissions, cut fuel consumption and, ultimately, save money.

The competition, which was judged by three engineers from ABB Turbocharging Baden, required entrants to write a 750-1250 word essay on the development of turbocharger technology and the key drivers for further technological progress in the future. Participants were also asked the challenging question: "How much would a pair of sneakers made in the US and shipped to Switzerland cost if shipped without a turbocharged container vessel?"

ABB has named Charles Stuart from Ballycastle in Northern Ireland as the overall winner of the competition’s $2,500 first prize essay. His entry on ‘How 110 Years of Turbocharging Changed the World’ brought to life the critical impact turbocharging has had on engine development in general, and on shipping efficiency and costs in particular. Charles is a 24-year-old PhD student researching compressor aerodynamics and 1-D design tools at Queen’s University, Belfast. (Full details and a downloadable PDF of the winning paper at: http://new.abb.com/turbocharging/call-for-paper-winners)

Second prize, worth $1,500, has been awarded to Anton Ronquist, also 24 years old, and a mechatronics Masters student at Linköping University. Petr Kohout, a 24-year old mechanical engineering Masters student at Czech Technical University in Prague specializing in combustion engines, won the third prize, worth $1,000. ABB has also awarded ten consolation prizes to runners-up in the contest.

Volkmar Haueisen, ABB’s Head of Research and Development, commented: "We are delighted that our essay competition attracted so many participants in this important year in ABB’s turbocharger timeline. The quality of their entries has been very high. Our wholehearted congratulations go to Charles whose entry was, in our opinion, outstanding. What Alfred Büchi invented more than a century ago has developed into a truly transformational technology, which has played a vital part in raising engine efficiency for more than one hundred years. Millions of tons of fuel and harmful emissions have been saved. Charles’ entry reflects these remarkable achievements,” he added.

Entrants to the competition may have wrestled with answering the question on sneakers, but they had no shortage of material to include from over 100 years of continuously evolving turbocharger technology.

Some of the key milestones include:

  • 1920 – first turbocharged airplane reaches 33,000 feet
  • 1925 – first marine turbochargers introduced to the market
  • 1954 – first compact units launched for use in freight trucks
  • 1973 – turbochargers became standard on all diesel vehicles as a result of the oil crisis
  • 2010 – Power2 launched, a two-stage turbocharging system raising efficiency by another 10%
  • 2015 – MSC Oscar, one of the world’s largest containerships, achieves a 75% increase in energy efficiency and a 62% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions through its ABB turbocharger installations

"This has been a fantastic record of continuous development in a technology with no downside. Turbochargers only improve performance," ABB’s Haueisen observed. "Our research team is now fully focused on the science relating to the next stage of technological development. We are proud to be the pioneers of this outstanding technology. "

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