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Torotrak in joint venture with Rotrex to speed introduction of variable drive compressor technology

13 May 2010

Variable drive specialist Torotrak has formed a 50-50 joint venture with centrifugal supercharger firm Rotrex. The company, which will be called Rotrak, will address the automotive industry need for affordable, effective engine downsizing technologies.

“Rotrex is the world leader in centrifugal supercharger technology and has for many years delivered their compact, efficient and near-silent products to some of the leading companies in the world,” says Torotrak chief executive Dick Elsy (pictured). “Adding Torotrak’s scalable variable speed traction drive to Rotrex’s technology will overcome many of the compromises that affect current pressure-charging systems.

“Our joint studies indicate that the cost of volume-manufactured products which incorporate Rotrak technology will be very competitive, giving us the confidence to start prototype development."

Vehicle manufacturers are moving aggressively to downsize their engines in order to achieve substantial efficiency gains with reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. But as engines get smaller, the challenge becomes one of boosting performance across the entire speed-range to provide ”large-engine” responsiveness and to make sure that driving remains enjoyable.

A conventional turbocharger struggles at low speed, particularly in these smaller engines. Better low-speed boost can be achieved but it is complex and costly. Supercharging is the main alternative, but the fixed ratio between engine and supercharger speeds means that if boost is optimised for low-end response, then energy is wasted at higher engine speeds.

“Torotrak and Rotrex are ideally positioned as partners for the development of variable drive supercharging systems,” says Rotrex managing director Lars Kristiansen. “For some time we have been looking for a scalable, efficient and durable technology to provide a variable drive capability for our centrifugal compressors and our studies have confirmed that Torotrak is the clear leader in this field.

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