|Antonov 2-speed supercharger drive.|
Antonov, an automotive technology company, will demonstrate the world’s first two-speed supercharger drive system to enter series production next week at the Engine Expo exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany.
The Antonov Mechanical Module two-speed drives a Rotrex centrifugal pump supercharger faster at low engine speeds, thereby delivering a higher boost ratio to provide additional low speed engine torque.
As engine speed rises the unit—essentially a tiny automatic gearbox—automatically shifts up to enable the supercharger to continue to operate effectively at higher engine speeds.
The device controls the shift with the use of centrifugal force and axial thrust generated by helical gears under load. Therefore, they can work as autonomous self-adapting modules without the need for hydraulic actuation or electronic control.
The ability of the mechanism to operate as a passive device without the need for additional external control or hydraulics offers low cost, high efficiency and simplicity of application.
The centrifugal pump supercharger is more compact, less complex and less expensive than a positive displacement supercharger, but cannot offer the same torque output at low engine revs.
The Antonov drive system, however, extends the engine torque curve supported by the centrifugal pump supercharger to exceed even the performance of a positive displacement blower. In addition, the torque curve can be tuned so that a smaller displacement engine matches exactly the performance of a much larger naturally aspirated unit.
While the first commercial demonstration application of the system is in two high-performance vehicles—a Mercedes and Ford Mustang—the high-volume potential for the device lies in its ability to enable engine downsizing, opening up the application of superchargers to mainstream vehicles.
Antonov anticipates demand for the drive system will come from carmakers needing to downsize engines in pursuit of better fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. One trouble with smaller displacement engines is the loss of low-end torque; hence the need to compensate through forced induction to restore the driveability of the vehicle and its engine performance characteristics.
Antonov is initially introducing the device into the US tuner market—exposing the first production units to a tough performance engine environment and, in many instances, aggressive track racing conditions.
Our tactic of selling to the world’s largest market for tuner products is strategically important, particularly while we are in discussion with vehicle manufacturers and tier 1 suppliers interested in high-volume applications. It shows OEMs that we are confident enough to launch the variable drive into the industry’s toughest marketplace to prove this is fully developed and readily available technology. We have experienced strong interest and have already supplied units to OEM clients for assessment and development trials.—John Moore, chief executive of Antonov
A research and development company, Antonov expects to licence the technology to high-volume clients either directly or through their Tier 1 suppliers. Antonov can manage the initial manufacture and supply of up to 10,000 units annually through its production supply partner Neue ZWL Zahnradwerk.
The current sales plan is for far lower preliminary sales growing to around 4,000 units over the next three years.
Antonov will also have its compact 6-speed automatic transmission system for front wheel drive passenger cars on display in Stuttgart. In January this year, Antonov announced an agreement to develop this transmission with Great Wall Motor Company Limited.
Antonov is also embroiled in litigation against Toyota for the Japanese company’s alleged infringement of Antonov patents in the Prius. (Earlier post.)