detroit diesel

Detroit Diesel Turbocharger Evolution: From the Past to the Future of Efficient Diesel Engines

The evolution of Detroit Diesel turbos showcases a captivating journey of technological progress in diesel engine design. Detroit Diesel is a well-known company that makes diesel engines. They have always worked on improving turbocharging technology to make engines better in terms of performance, fuel economy, and emissions. We will explore the history of Detroit Diesel and its development and impact on diesel engines.

Early Turbocharging

Detroit Diesel boasts a notable legacy as one of the first innovators to embrace turbocharging technology in the realm of diesel engines. This technological advancement was a game-changer, primarily aimed at boosting engine performance by harnessing the power of forced air induction. The turbocharger’s role was to compress and force additional air into the engine’s combustion chamber. This compressed air facilitated a more thorough mixing of fuel and oxygen, thereby enhancing the combustion process.

The innovation increased engine power, making turbocharged diesel engines more versatile and competitive in many applications. This was particularly crucial for industries like transportation, construction, and manufacturing, where reliable and powerful engines were in high demand.

Moreover, the adoption of turbocharging technology represented a substantial step forward in improving fuel efficiency in diesel engines. The more efficient combustion process generated by turbochargers allowed for a greater extraction of energy from each unit of fuel, resulting in reduced fuel consumption. The improved efficiency was a big advantage, especially in long-distance trucking and industrial machinery. Fuel costs are a significant portion of operating expenses in these industries.

Turbocharging also laid the foundation for enhanced torque delivery in diesel engines. The increased airflow into the combustion chamber contributed to a more robust and torque-rich power curve. This made diesel engines equipped with turbochargers exceptionally well-suited for applications that required substantial low-end torque, such as heavy-duty trucks and off-road equipment.

Two-Stroke Engines

Detroit Diesel has earned a distinct reputation for its specialization in two-stroke diesel engines. Turbocharging systems have been added to improve two-stroke engine performance in various applications like commercial trucks and industrial machinery. The significance of turbochargers in the realm of two-stroke diesel engines stems from their ability to optimize power delivery.

Turbochargers operate by compressing the incoming air before it enters the combustion chamber. The compressed air has more oxygen, which, when mixed with fuel, leads to a stronger and more efficient combustion. The net effect of turbocharging is a substantial increase in engine power output.

This power improvement is vital, making two-stroke engines more competitive and attractive to industries that require high performance and reliability. Commercial trucks, renowned for their heavy-duty requirements, benefit significantly from the power boost provided by turbocharged two-stroke diesel engines.

Series 60 Engine

The introduction of the Series 60 engine by Detroit Diesel in 1987 represented a pivotal moment in the company’s history. This engine model achieved remarkable milestones in performance and efficiency, especially in medium and heavy-duty trucking.

One of the standout features of the Series 60 engine was its turbocharged design. Adding a turbocharger was important for increasing engine performance by improving air intake and combustion. This led to a big increase in power output, making the Series 60 engine a great option for applications that needed high performance.

The Series 60 engine was at the forefront of technological innovation. It introduced electronic fuel injection, a cutting-edge advancement that replaced traditional mechanical fuel delivery systems. Electronic fuel injection enabled precise control of fuel delivery, leading to better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.

Furthermore, the engine’s combustion chamber design was overhauled and improved to enhance combustion efficiency. This optimization contributed to a more complete and efficient burning of fuel, further increasing both power and fuel economy.

The Series 60 engine quickly became a standard-bearer for efficiency and power in the medium and heavy-duty trucking industry. Its turbocharged design, coupled with electronic fuel injection and advanced combustion chamber technology, set new benchmarks in engine performance.

Emissions Control

In response to increasingly strict emissions regulations, Detroit Diesel remained at the forefront of innovation in turbocharging technology to ensure compliance with these stringent standards. As these regulations evolved and became more demanding, turbochargers played an integral role in helping diesel engines meet the required emissions criteria.

One significant advancement was the integration of turbochargers into exhaust after treatment systems. These after treatment systems, which include components like diesel particulate filters (DPF) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR), were implemented to further reduce harmful emissions, particularly particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx).

Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF) are designed to trap and remove particulate matter (soot) from the exhaust gases of diesel engines. Turbochargers were adapted to work in conjunction with DPF systems to enhance their effectiveness. Turbochargers help DPFs burn off accumulated soot more efficiently by increasing airflow and optimizing combustion.

Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) is another crucial emissions control technology that utilizes a catalyst to convert nitrogen oxides (NOx) into less harmful substances. Turbochargers were instrumental in the SCR process by ensuring that the engine operated under conditions that allowed for efficient NOx reduction. This task required the administration of airflow and the enhancement of exhaust gas temperatures to promote SCR catalyst performance.

Turbochargers now have electronic control systems that adjust in real-time based on factors like engine load, speed, and exhaust gas composition. This allowed Diesel engines to adjust their emissions control strategies to meet operational needs and emissions standards.


Variable Geometry Turbochargers (VGT)

Detroit Diesel saw that Variable Geometry Turbocharger (VGT) technology had potential to improve engine performance, so they included VGT systems in their engines. The VGT turbochargers were a big improvement because they could change the angle of their vanes to control the air going into the engine. This helped the turbochargers work better in different situations.

One notable advantage of VGT technology is its ability to enhance both low-end torque and high-end power. This adaptability enables the engine to deliver robust torque at lower RPMs, facilitating better acceleration and response during low-speed operation. Simultaneously, it allows for increased power output at higher RPMs, improving overall engine performance.

The net result of this flexibility is a substantial improvement in drivability. Vehicles equipped with VGT turbochargers experience smoother power delivery across a wide range of engine speeds. This improves driving and helps with better control, especially in situations that need quick acceleration or precise power management.

Fuel efficiency is another area where VGT technology shines. By optimizing the airflow into the engine based on the current operating conditions, VGT turbochargers facilitate more efficient combustion. This efficiency translates into reduced fuel consumption, making VGT-equipped engines more environmentally friendly and cost-effective for owners and operators.


Enhanced Fuel Efficiency

Turbocharging technology has significantly contributed to improving the fuel efficiency of Detroit Diesel engines. Its role in achieving this vital goal cannot be overstated. Turbocharging is about making the air and fuel mix better in the engine to use fuel more efficiently. One of the primary ways in which turbochargers enhance fuel efficiency is by increasing the air pressure and density delivered to the engine’s combustion chambers.

This higher air density facilitates more thorough mixing with the injected fuel, creating a more ideal air-fuel ratio for combustion. The result is a better and more efficient burning of fuel, obtaining more energy from each unit of fuel.

Detroit Diesel-powered vehicles and equipment can save money on fuel costs due to a significant reduction in fuel consumption. Using less fuel helps engines cost less to run and also makes them better for the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.

Moreover, turbocharged engines are better equipped to deliver consistent power and torque across a broad range of operating conditions. This flexibility makes it easier to operate efficiently in situations that require different power levels, like accelerating or climbing steep slopes.

Advancements in Materials and Design

Detroit Diesel has consistently improved their turbochargers to make them more reliable and durable for long-haul trucking and industrial uses. One significant aspect of these improvements lies in the materials used for turbocharger construction.

Modern turbochargers are engineered with high-quality materials that are selected for their robustness and resilience. These materials are chosen to endure the challenging environments and stresses encountered during extended periods of operation. The goal is to minimize wear and tear, prolonging the turbocharger’s service life and reducing the need for frequent maintenance.

Detroit Diesel has focused on optimizing the design of turbochargers to enhance their longevity and dependability. This involves careful engineering to ensure that all components work seamlessly together, reducing the risk of malfunctions or failures. The design improvements include critical areas like bearing systems, seals, and housing, which all help to make the turbocharger more reliable.

Incorporating advancements in lubrication technology is another crucial element of Detroit Diesel’s efforts to enhance turbocharger durability. To keep the turbocharger running smoothly and prevent damage, it’s important to use effective lubrication systems that reduce friction and wear.

These enhancements result in turbochargers that require minimal maintenance. This is a significant advantage for operators, as it reduces downtime and associated costs. Turbochargers that demand less maintenance are not only more cost-effective but also contribute to improved operational efficiency.


Integration with Hybrid and Electric Technologies

Detroit Diesel is exploring the use of turbochargers in hybrid and electric powertrains for the automotive industry. This move acknowledges the importance of turbocharging technology in improving the performance and sustainability of emerging propulsion systems.

Turbochargers, traditionally associated with internal combustion engines, are being reimagined as valuable components in hybrid and electric powertrains. Their integration offers several advantages, including enhanced efficiency and reduced emissions, even in non-traditional diesel engine applications.

One of the primary benefits of integrating turbochargers with hybrid and electric powertrains is their capacity to improve power delivery. Turbochargers can boost the performance of electric motors by providing additional power when needed, enhancing acceleration and overall responsiveness. This synergy between turbocharging and electric propulsion ensures a smoother and more dynamic driving experience.

The integration of turbochargers helps reduce emissions in hybrid and electric vehicles. Optimizing power delivery in these systems makes energy use more efficient, reducing the need for extra battery capacity and lowering the vehicle’s environmental impact.

Detroit Diesel believes that turbochargers can help improve the flexibility and adaptability of hybrid and electric powertrains for different driving conditions. Turbocharging allows vehicles to adjust power output, making them suitable for various situations like city driving or highway travel.


The evolution of Detroit Diesel turbos represents a continuous journey of innovation and adaptation to meet the demands of modern transportation and industrial sectors. Their dedication to improving performance, emissions control, and sustainability has positioned them as leaders in turbocharging technology, driving progress and setting new standards for the industry.