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    • Plastic turbos coming soon from BMW? Mann+Hummel demonstrates high grade thermoplastic N54 turbocharger housing

      This is a rather interesting development in the turbocharger market. Mann+Hummel worked with BMW over the past four years to develop a functioning prototype using an N54 turbocharger as the basis for a high grade thermoplastic turbocharger housing. The benefits of high grade plastics in cars are numerous but they are usually applied to body and chassis components and not actually to engine components where strength is at a premium.


      Mann+Hummel claims these plastic housings reduce weight and help with emissions. BimmerBoost is not sure what the emissions benefit to the plastic housing actually is. The main difference is seemingly in the weight loss which then reduces the energy requirements to move the car. It's obvious why BMW would want this technology researched as the plastic material would help save weight and also likely costs as a plastic turbo will be cheaper than a high grade metal unit.

      With BMW going for efficiency above all else we may start seeing plastic turbos at least in the economy models. It is doubtful a plastic housing would hold up to the rigors of a turbo M motor and then questions are raised as to how the material would fare under high heat conditions in a racetrack setting.

      Head of development at Mann+Hummel Dr. Huurdeman had this to say, "The practices we have implemented successfully over the years for many plastic engine components were much harder to implement when replacing aluminium with thermoplastic PPS (polyphenylene sulphide) for turbocharger compressor housings. For example, the dynamic pressure loads at high compressor outlet temperatures entail very particular construction and material requirements."

      If the plastic housing is able to deliver the durability and reliability BMW desires for a certain power level it will be no surprise to see it implemented. Plastic turbos coming soon? Sure looks like it.

      Source
      This article was originally published in forum thread: Plastic turbos coming soon from BMW? Mann+Hummel demonstrates high grade thermoplastic N54 turbocharger housing started by Sticky View original post
      Comments 110 Comments
      1. E90Company's Avatar
        E90Company -
        The end is near
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by E90Company Click here to enlarge
        The end is near
        That's how I feel.
      1. Mat Morkin's Avatar
        Mat Morkin -
        That sucks, but if it is some kind of crazy NASA plastic than it's not the end of the world. No way they use it on the hot side. If they start making internals out of plastic that would be the end of the world...haha.
      1. Sparky68's Avatar
        Sparky68 -
        Shiv making a single? Click here to enlarge
      1. E90Company's Avatar
        E90Company -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Mat Morkin Click here to enlarge
        That sucks, but if it is some kind of crazy NASA plastic than it's not the end of the world. No way they use it on the hot side. If they start making internals out of plastic that would be the end of the world...haha.
        At the rate BMW is going that will probably be sooner than you think
      1. benzy89's Avatar
        benzy89 -
        Honestly, who cares?? As long as it works, that's all that really matters?? And chances are that people like us (who modify our cars with aftermarket components) would just end up swapping in a bigger, higher quality metal turbo if it bothered us that much anyhow.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by benzy89 Click here to enlarge
        Honestly, who cares?? As long as it works, that's all that really matters?? And chances are that people like us (who modify our cars with aftermarket components) would just end up swapping in a bigger, higher quality metal turbo if it bothered us that much anyhow.
        You really would rather have a plastic factory turbo than metal? How much will you gain before you melt the stupid thing?
      1. VargasTurboTech's Avatar
        VargasTurboTech -
        You ever feel how light a N54 stock compressor housing is. I cannot imagine this makes it much more then a few ounces lighter. This is where they decide to spend their money. Awesome...Click here to enlarge
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by VargasTurboTech Click here to enlarge
        You ever feel how light a N54 stock compressor housing is. I cannot imagine this makes it much more then a few ounces lighter. This is where they decide to spend their money. Awesome...Click here to enlarge
        They say 30% difference, is that even worth it? It must be the cost more than anything else.
      1. uniter's Avatar
        uniter -
        Won't a plastic housing mean less heat transfer from the hot side? Meaning lower IATs?
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by uniter Click here to enlarge
        Won't a plastic housing mean less heat transfer from the hot side? Meaning lower IATs?
        I would guess so? But won't the plastic have trouble holding up to sustained heat anyway?
      1. Ammonia's Avatar
        Ammonia -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        It is doubtful a plastic housing would hold up to the rigors of a turbo M motor and then questions are raised as to how the material would fare under high heat conditions in a racetrack setting.
        Fixed.

        /grammurnazilul
      1. Sparky68's Avatar
        Sparky68 -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I would guess so? But won't the plastic have trouble holding up to sustained heat anyway?
        Depends how much heat, we run composite parts that get over 800 centigrade on the race cars.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Ammonia Click here to enlarge
        Fixed.

        /grammurnazilul
        Wow... I can't believe I made one that basic.
      1. uniter's Avatar
        uniter -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I would guess so? But won't the plastic have trouble holding up to sustained heat anyway?
        Nope, polymers can do some pretty amazing things and have pretty awesome properties.
        Wouldn't worry too much about this one boys, this is a positive development.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by uniter Click here to enlarge
        Nope, polymers can do some pretty amazing things and have pretty awesome properties.
        Wouldn't worry too much about this one boys, this is a positive development.
        I believe you but how in the world will it be a better options for performance enthusiasts? It just seems to favor BMW's bottom line.

        Let's say you want to start pushing the turbo the max, will it really be better than metal? I don't think so.
      1. uniter's Avatar
        uniter -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        I believe you but how in the world will it be a better options for performance enthusiasts? It just seems to favor BMW's bottom line.

        Let's say you want to start pushing the turbo the max, will it really be better than metal? I don't think so.
        Here are my assumptions:
        Compressor Side housing is the only polymer part.

        Aside from the performance advantages of lower IAT I see no difference between a polymer and a metal compressor side housing.
        Will it be better than metal, yes absolutely.
      1. Sticky's Avatar
        Sticky -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by uniter Click here to enlarge
        Aside from the performance advantages of lower IAT I see no difference between a polymer and a metal compressor side housing.
        Will it be better than metal, yes absolutely.
        Why no difference between polymer and metal? And why better then?
      1. SCGT's Avatar
        SCGT -
        Why not? Materials are selected based on their properties and the application. The way composites and polymers are going, it's possible to design materials that greatly exceed the strength, hardness, etc of metals. The thermal resistance has been a work in progress, but advancing steadily. This is good stuff. I for one can't wait to see a variable pitch tubine blade with no moving parts. It'll happen, just give it time.
      1. uniter's Avatar
        uniter -
        Click here to enlarge Originally Posted by Sticky Click here to enlarge
        Why no difference between polymer and metal? And why better then?
        Metals like transferring heat, polymers don't.

        If the hot side doesn't transfer as much heat then the IATs won't rise as much.

        As we've seen with the polymer made intake manifold these parts seem to be able to take much more boost than we thought they would without popping.

        So IATs would be lower, lower price point, identical strength. This is a specially formulated polymer that was engineered to withstand continuous high engine bay temperatures. The compressor's housing is engineered to withstand the pressures that the compressor operates at. Not the same stuff that they use in fisher-price toys.

        I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss this is a 'step backward' simply because you don't have the technical sheet on the compressor Click here to enlarge

        Assumptions aside, given a technical sheet you could stack them up side by side.
        You'd need to know:
        Max PSI supported by the compressor side.
        Max temp supported by the polymer.

        Other than that we're really speculating and navel gazing Click here to enlarge