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Discussion Starter #1
Hello fellow Insighters.

I've begun researching the possibility of supercharging the Insight in
earnest. The concept that I'm working off of would power a standard
supercharger with an electric motor drawing juice from the 144V hybrid
battery pack. The supercharger system would incorporate an intercooler
and custom intake piping. The drive system would incorporate an
electric motor and controller with associated wiring to the battery
pack. Using a centrifugal supercharger we should be able to maintain
our high MPG numbers while cruising at low throttle and still get the
power boost from the supercharger under acceleration.

If there is interest from a group of people who also want such a system
I'd be willing to develop it into a kit, or even do installations of it
into other Insights once the concept has been proven in my car. If
there's no interest then I'll just do it for myself. So, if you'd be
willing to help with the project or if you'd want to supercharge your
Insight then contact me off-list to let me know. I don't know exactly
how much this is going to cost right now, but I am projecting about
$5,000 per car.

I'm drawing inspiration from Willie's success turbocharging his
Insight. I've always been a fan of supercharging as opposed to turbo
though, and I think that taking advantage of the battery pack in the
Insight will give even better results than a turbo because there will
be no extra parasitic drag on the engine.

Later,

Matt Muelver
 

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Not to sound pessimistic, and bear in mind that my expertise is not in electronics…just a hobbyist, but if I understand correctly you are planning to use the ICE to generate electricity (with some loss) run that through the Insight’s power converter (with some loss) store in the battery (some loss) then under acceleration, pull that power out of the battery, through your supercharger motor controller (loss) drive the supercharger (loss) and boost the ICE? All this for only $5K. It seems like a pretty lossy system to me. I know there are some “real” electric superchargers out there that generate ~1 PSI of boost and draw 750 watts of power (I’m ignoring all the boat ventilator fans on e-bay that do the “same thing” for $19.95)

For my $5K, it would seem to be easier to hack the computer and add more/better batteries that could take and release charge faster, then you could just boost up the re-gen braking and use more power on acceleration. Or if all you are interested in is some boosted acceleration, pop on a $500 nitrous kit and tune it down to the 20-25 HP range. The nitrous would last quite a while at such a low power level, but you would definitely feel a 25HP boost in an 1800 lb car, plus, the below-deck storage would be perfect for concealing the bottle from prying eyes!

If you do go through with the e-charger, let us know how it goes.
 

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As for "parasitic drag" I think there may more too it than meets the eye.

The power to run your supercharger set-up would come from the ICE. It may not be directly, mechanically, connected, but it is still "parasitic".

Turbochargers, if correctly applied, should not be a source of "drag".

Why supercharging, vs, turbocharging? Turbos are probably more efficient in our application, since they are not used if not needed, whereas superchargers are always "on". Unless your system is truly "on demand", perhaps linked to IMA assist.

Apologize for the questions....
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Corey,

I'm not claiming that this will be a perfectly efficient system, however, most of it is already in the Insight. The batteries and charging system is already there. Since the goal is to get more power out of the ICE it makes sense to use the available electric power to drive the blower instead of pulling power off the engine, as a normal supercharger or a turbocharger does.

I'd much rather be able to hack into the IMA system and increase its power output, but doing that successfully would require knowledge that is not available to us. Namely, the design schematics and programming from Honda. Another option would be to replace the IMA system's controls with something custom designed, but then we're talking about a lot of R&D and a whole lot more than $5k.

The reason for doing the supercharger as opposed to just fitting a Nitrous kit are the same reasons that given all over the performance car scene for the same comparison. Once the supercharger is installed there's no need to refill any bottles and the sytem can be tuned more precisely and give more and safer power.

That being said I have toyed with the idea of putting nitrous on my Insight. I may still do it too. There's a certain level of respect gained however when one designs and implements a custom supercharger or turbo setup. In other words, I'd get more 'props' at the track with a custom supercharger than I'd get with a bottle of NOS.

Holicow,

The point is that we won't be adding any extra parasitic drag to the ICE. The IMA is always charging the batteries anyway, so nothing will change there.

If you think that a turbo doesn't cause a parasitic drag on the engine then you don't understand how one works. Supercharging is not an always on system, but a turbo IS always on. The big difference is that the supercharger can be turned off when it isn't needed, but the turbo is always putting resistance into the exhaust system by its nature and design. The greatest part about the electric drive design of my concept system is that not only can it be turned off when not needed, but it won't drag on the ICE and it won't be ICE speed dependent, which means that it can provide any amount of boost at all engine speeds.

Later,

Matt
 

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Okay, I'm interested. Not sure I'm ready to pledge $5K, but I'm interested.

I have to say that intuitively, the supercharger should increase drag, though, shouldn't it? If it consumes any power off of the IMA, that will require the system to recharge the battery that much sooner, which places burden on the ICE, doesn't it?

Even if your driving pattern is such that your battery is always pretty much topped-off, and you're already leaving power "on the table" (i.e., rarely require "forced charging"), then won't a supercharger's power usage incrementally increase the amount of time the ICE is forced to charge the batteries?

More uninformed speculation on my part, but a big part of the fun of this car is trying to understand how it works. :)

MF
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Mike,

You are right, the system will probably require the ICE to charge the batteries more because we'll be discharging them more by using them to power the supercharger. The way I see it though is that this will be a small trade-off. The ICE is always charging the IMA batteries anyway, even when the gauge doesn't indicate it. In much the way the IMA system itself stores up excess energy over time to use during short periods of demand the supercharger will do the same, it'll use that stored energy when you need it and by taking advantage of the car's ability to store this energy we won't have to take the immediate hit that a belt-driven supercharger has.

The $5k estimate is probably on the high end of what the system will actually cost. That's including an intercooler, which we probably won't need, and a serious chunk of change for the motor and controller.

I need to study what Willie has done with the extra fuel injector, because I bet I'll run into the same problem eventually. I'm going to need to familiarize myself with fuel injector control systems.

Later,

Matt
 

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coolcat said:
If you think that a turbo doesn't cause a parasitic drag on the engine then you don't understand how one works. Supercharging is not an always on system, but a turbo IS always on. ...

OK, maybe there is some "drag" in turbos, (more correctly resistance to exhaust flow, "backpressure") but it is not significant if designed properly. Yes, I have a turbocharged car now, and have had others in the past. And in most other applications, SC is always on, mechanically driven.

Are you planning to design some sort of bypass for when the SC is not boosting? If not, I see a problem with possible restriction of intake flow.

coolcat said:
Holicow,

The point is that we won't be adding any extra parasitic drag to the ICE. The IMA is always charging the batteries anyway, so nothing will change there....
If the power for your SC is not coming from the ICE, where is it coming from? If you don't get this, you don't know how physics works. :wink: (back at ya)

And lastly, if you SC is truly "OFF" (not spinning at all) when not activated by whatever signal you have in mind, you are looking at some serious boost lag.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ok, let's clear some stuff up.

I'm not claiming that this will be a perfectly efficient system! Of course the energy that drives it will be coming from the ICE by way of the IMA's recharging system. The benefit is that by boosting the intake pressure by taking advantage of the stored potential in the batteries we won't have to make the usual sacrifice in instantaneous power that other boosting systems have to. Both pulley driven superchargers and turbos take power from the engine to drive them. This takes away from the full potential power that could be gained. This electric system will still take power from the engine, but it can be spread out over a long period of time instead of sucking it all out at the moment the boost is being used, allowing greater potential peak power output.

Through thinking about this today I've come up with a fairly simple idea that will allow the supercharger to be disconnected from the intake system, allowing normal operation until boost is desired. Normal superchargers start off at low RPM with low boost and ramp up as engine speed increases (boost lag). This sytem will allow us to have full boost at idle (if that proves to be a safe idea)! I'm thinking of a switch, much like the activation switch for a NOS system. Hit the switch and the supercharger will engage and come into the intake system. The electric motor spinning the blower will be able to spin up very quickly so when used correctly there should be no boost lag. Electric motors are very torquey, so in a matter seconds full boost will be achieved.

As I said, I'm just beginning to research this idea in earnest. It is something that I've played around with in my head for a while, but haven't pursued until now. I may just put a 25 shot of NOS on my Insight to keep me happy until I can figure out if this will work or not. :)

Later,

Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #10
james said:
"...a turbo IS always on."

Wouldn't have to be, would it? I't think it'd be fairly trivial to rig up something analogous to a waste gate, so you could route the exhaust stream past the turbo.
While I agree that it may be possible, I have never seen such a setup. I imagine something similar to the design I've come up with to disengage the electric supercharger would work, though on the exhaust side you're dealing with backpressure and heat which would make it tricky.

Later,

Matt
 

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Congads. Matt on becomeing a R and D type guy. Without R&D there is no progress.

Another decision on the above problem would be to either mount the Supercharger "before or after" the throttle body.

The turbocharger on my "dune buggy" is after the carb. (no fuel injection) and on the RED ROCKET it is before the throttle body (injectors)

You could use something like an Air Conditioner clutch flywheel set up to activate the SC.
BUT...What is going to happen to the engine once you give it MAX BOOST all at once. (if that is your plan)

If I can help in any way, or you want to "pick my brain", let me know. Don't give up, "FOLLOW THAT DREAM"............
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Willie, I appreciate the support.

I'm thinking that mounting it before the throttle body would be best. Less fabrication and all. I'm currently reviewing all the info on what you did with your extra fuel injector, placement, control, etc. I want to be up to speed on that kind of stuff if/when I need to do it as well.

Later,

Matt
 

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Matt, I believe that an electric supercharger can work. You might try using a centrufugal air pump such as found on a vacuum cleaner. Centrifical vacuums such as those found in central vac systems have more power than a portable vacuum The motor of a central vac system is designed for 120 volts AC but will work even better on DC. Since the supercharger is only needed occasionally running it off 144 volts should be alright and it should produce a little more presure as well. Even though there are electrical losses inherent in this kind of setup, they are probably less than the mechanical losses of a turbine powered "turbo charger". If you want to get fancy and can find an ironless rotor electric motor your lag time will be reduced. Likewise if your can try to keep the weight down on the pump or centrifical fan. Good luck and have fun, sounds like a great little project.
 

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I would ask, how can you ask current from the IMA battery (6.5 A/H) when while you have the pedal to the floor, to accelerate the fastest, the IMA is already drawing about 80 amps for the same battery.

I think that you could have a parrallel connected battery, that could be charged from the ima battery but independant through the use of diodes to prevent giving into the ima.
Then that battery would only supply your electric blower.
 

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Hmm, I don't think you would need to run the electric supercharger motor off of the 144 volt pack - although you 'could' do that, I don't know how common 144 volt electric motors are in the power range you would be looking for. Probrably just a 12 volt would be easier to find.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
b1shmu63 said:
Matt, I believe that an electric supercharger can work.
Thanks, I know it'll work. I've just got to figure out the details.
You might try using a centrufugal air pump such as found on a vacuum cleaner.
I have been looking at centrifugal superchargers, but I don't think that a vacuum cleaner would do it. I want to generate at least 5psi, preferably 8psi.
Centrifical vacuums such as those found in central vac systems have more power than a portable vacuum The motor of a central vac system is designed for 120 volts AC but will work even better on DC. Since the supercharger is only needed occasionally running it off 144 volts should be alright and it should produce a little more presure as well.
Using a universal AC motor is something that I've considered. I'm going to look into RPMs and power capabilities of a few such motors to see if they'll work.
Even though there are electrical losses inherent in this kind of setup, they are probably less than the mechanical losses of a turbine powered "turbo charger". If you want to get fancy and can find an ironless rotor electric motor your lag time will be reduced. Likewise if your can try to keep the weight down on the pump or centrifical fan. Good luck and have fun, sounds like a great little project.
Thanks for the encouragement.

Later,

Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Aaron Cake said:
How do you intend to draw off the 144V pack without confusing the system?
I'm going to tap directly into the batteries terminals, just as John Wayland has done for his stereo system's DC-DC converter. There's no guarantee that the system won't get confused, but John's Insight hasn't had problems.

Later,

Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yves M. said:
I would ask, how can you ask current from the IMA battery (6.5 A/H) when while you have the pedal to the floor, to accelerate the fastest, the IMA is already drawing about 80 amps for the same battery.
I've asked John W. what he thinks about the batteries' ability to handle the extra load. If it turns out to be a problem then I can figure out something.
I think that you could have a parrallel connected battery, that could be charged from the ima battery but independant through the use of diodes to prevent giving into the ima.
Then that battery would only supply your electric blower.
That's not a bad idea. If battery capacity turns out to be a problem I'll keep it in mind.

Later,

Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Foxpaw said:
Hmm, I don't think you would need to run the electric supercharger motor off of the 144 volt pack - although you 'could' do that, I don't know how common 144 volt electric motors are in the power range you would be looking for. Probrably just a 12 volt would be easier to find.
Foxpaw, I think you're underestimating the power required to do the job. By using the 144V pack I'll be able to spin the motor at the required 4-6k RPM with a much lower current than would be required at 12V for the same power output. This is more than just spinning a fan or propeller blade, we're actually compressing a large volume of air here.

Later,

Matt
 
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