Ken Gillette Racing to Demonstrate Electric Supercharger

 

Duryea Technologies*, developer of high-efficiency brushless motors for hybrid vehicle applications, has announced a technical partnership with driver Ken Gillette, a hillclimb class champion and record holder from Ohio. During the 2016 racing season, Gillette will be demonstrating the Duryea Electric Supercharger in a modified car.

Duryea electric supercharger

“After driving the Mazda Miata the last two years in the Spec Miata class I am excited to drive the car with Duryea’s hybrid technology.  The addition of ‘on demand’ boost from the electric supercharger should provide much-needed torque, allowing quicker acceleration when it’s most needed,” states Gillette.

The company reports its centrifugal electric supercharger converts 7kW of energy from a 12 or 24V battery bank into enough pressurized air to add 40kW of engine power; more oxygen in the engine boosts performance and lowers emissions. Duryea Technologies touts fuel-efficiency benefits similar to a conventional hybrid vehicle and credits this to its supercharger’s low-voltage, high-current power electronics, and high-speed LM5 permanent-magnet brushless motor.  The LM5 has no windings, low core losses and doesn’t require liquid cooling.

Hillclimb racing was chosen for demonstration purposes because it pushes the limits of vehicles at a variety of speeds, making it an ideal motorsport for an electric supercharger. Starting at the bottom of a steep mountain, drivers must fight gravity and turbo lag, brake heavily to maintain control on hairpin turns, and then struggle to recover momentum.  Because the electric supercharger operates independently of engine speed, it’s promoted by Duryea as a racing accessory able to meet these challenges, with up to a 100% increase in low-end torque before a turbocharger can spool.

Dan Sodomsky, Duryea Technologies CEO, was scouting for a capable driver to sponsor when he first saw Gillette compete at the Pagoda Hillclimb in 2015. “Ken’s competence and control were readily apparent. His driving was smooth. He used the brakes at precisely the right time, kept the engine speed up and followed a good line. I was surprised it was only his second year competing on the hillclimb circuit,” says Sodomsky.

He also found him to have the mindset of an early adopter and remarks, “Ken is extremely knowledgeable and progressive-minded concerning technical matters. He quickly grasped what we were trying to achieve and committed his time and vehicle to the project”.

Gillette’s current choice of the ever-popular Mazda Miata played a role in forming the partnership. A purpose-built racecar wouldn’t have the same impact for demonstrating the marketability of the electric supercharger for consumer and commercial vehicles.

Duryea Technologies’ asserts its foray into racing is about developing a product intended for mass production, and it designed an electric supercharger ready for integration with standard 12 or 24V electrical architecture. The controller is a multiphase step-down regulator, with the supercharger’s output varied by a fuel injection signal from a standard engine management system.

“We’re offering a powerful hybrid solution to the automotive industry that doesn’t require an entirely new vehicle.  Maximizing performance from a 12 or 24V battery, instead of a higher voltage, translates to both low battery costs and less space needed under the hood,” remarks Sodomsky, who is certain the electric supercharger will find a ready market.

Ken Gillette will be competing in the Pennsylvania Hillclimb Association series in addition to other events on the East Coast this summer. More information is at his website.

Duryea Technologies was founded in 1996 and has an established line of high-efficiency brushless motor/generators, compressor drives, hydraulic pump drives and alternators for idle-reduction and other hybrid vehicle applications.

Ken Gillette racer will use electric supercharger

*This story was made possible by the generous support of Duryea Technologies. 





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  • Garrick Staples

    I wonder about the life of the 12v battery and alternator to keep up with the supercharger’s power demands.

    • Steve Hanley

      That’s a good question. I think the 24V system would be the preferred choice. There is no free lunch, of course. Einstein proved that. Larger batteries weigh more. Generating electricity takes power that could otherwise be used to turn the wheels.

      The proof will be in the racing. if Gillette wins consistently, electric superchargers will be on every car next year in classes where the rules allow them. This is a case where racing really can improve the breed.