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How Do Twin Turbochargers Work?

Posted by Alex Smith on

Pursuing power and performance has led to many innovations in the world of automotive engineering, such as the twin turbochargers. These devices are a cornerstone in high-performance engines, giving vehicles extra power without sacrificing fuel efficiency. But how do twin turbochargers work?

Today, you can find these devices on various vehicles, including trucks, sports cars, and luxury vehicles. If you are interested in installing a turbocharger, you are at the right place. As a leading supplier of engine parts in the US, we will dive into how these devices work and unveil the intricacies behind their remarkable capabilities.

How Do Twin Turbochargers Work
Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: Mike Pellinni

What Does Twin Turbo Mean?

Turbochargers are a forced induction system that high-performance engines use to increase their power output. They are driven by an exhaust gas turbine and employed in engines to boost the charge air pressure.

There are different types of turbochargers used in the automotive industry: single, twin-turbo, twin-scroll turbo, and electric turbo, among others. As the name suggests, twin turbochargers are two separate devices working together. 

They are typically more complex and often more expensive than single turbochargers. However, unlike single turbos that rely solely on exhaust gases to spin the turbine and compress air, twin turbos take this concept to another level. 

Such a configuration often results in more linear power delivery across the engine’s rev range. It enhances responsiveness and efficiency in engine speeds, enabling improved torque at low revs and a more extensive working RPM range

Plus, one of the turbos is often smaller and optimized for lower engine speeds and provides quick response at low RPMs. Accordingly, the second turbo is larger and takes over the higher RPMs to deliver greater power. 

Twin Turbochargers Set Up 

The setup of a twin-turbo engine follows a few primary configurations: parallel and sequential. These setups are commonly found in performance-oriented vehicles, like six-cylinder and V-shaped patterned engines. 

Parallel path to power

This setup features two turbochargers of a similar size in a parallel layout. In the parallel twin setup, both devices receive exhaust gases simultaneously, compress the air independently, and supply it to the engine. 

This setup is often utilized in engines with V-orientation, such as V6s, V8s, V10s, and V12s. In this configuration, each turbo can be assigned to a cylinder bank, minimizing the exhaust piping needed for the system.

The benefit of this design is its potential to reduce turbo lag, as it combines two slightly smaller turbos instead of a larger one. This setup can also ensure a rapid power surge and provide a visceral driving experience.

Sequential mastery

The sequential turbo setup is complex but also versatile. In contrast to the parallel setup, the sequential one employs a smaller turbocharger for low-speed operation and a larger one for higher speeds.

The small turbo responds swiftly and eliminates lag at lower RPMs. As the engine speed increases, the larger turbo takes over, delivering the punch needed for exhilarating acceleration. It is significant to note that both turbos can simultaneously deliver boost under high rpm and loads.

Series twin turbo

Aside from the primary setups, you may also be familiar with the series twin turbo setup. Compared to the other setups, series twin-turbo engines feature turbos set in a series sequence, designed to produce massive power boost.

In this configuration, the second turbocharger compresses the first’s output, which results in a considerable pressure rise and power increase. While it can be more challenging to fine-tune, the series twin turbo setup can minimize turbo lag by pre-charging the second turbocharger.

Twin turbos vs. compound turbos

An important thing to note is that not every system that uses two compressors is a twin-turbo system. As mentioned, in a twin-turbo system, the two turbos split the job of feeding air into the intake between them.

When it comes to compound turbos, you also have two compressors in different sizes, arranged in series. Instead of splitting the job of forcing air into the intercooler, compound turbos operate one after one.

How Do Twin Turbochargers Work?

The turbocharger is a device with a snail-shell-like turbine. But what does a twin-turbo do? A twin turbocharger compresses the intake air before entering the combustion chamber. Doing so allows more fuel to be burned effectively and produces better torque.

The turbocharging system consists of two turbochargers connected to a set of cylinders in the engine. They work together, each featuring a turbine and a compressor. As the engine expels exhaust gases, they pass through these devices.

The exhaust gases flow to the turbine side of the turbochargers, causing the turbine wheel to spin. As the turbine spins, it is connected to a shaft that runs through the center of the housing. On the other side of the shaft is the compressor wheel, which draws in and compresses the air. 

The compressed air is then fed into the intake manifold of the engine. Given it is compressed, it contains more oxygen molecules per unit volume, allowing for a more powerful combustion process. 

When the RMPs rise, the second turbocharger engages and supplies additional compressed air to the engine. The increased oxygen supply enables the engine to burn more fuel, which leads to a higher power output. To get a better understanding of its operating process, you can take a look at the how do twin turbochargers work diagram presented below. 

Why Are Twin Turbos Better Than Other Types?

The twin turbochargers provide incredible power with only four cylinders. They minimize lag time and offer maximum performance. This makes them suitable for driving across city roads or traveling on open highways. 

They are a popular choice for car owners seeking to improve power and efficiency without sacrificing space or money. They are especially effective at higher RPM ranges where natural aspiration might struggle to deliver enough air.

Compared to naturally aspirated engines, the turbochargers provide reduced exhaust emissions. These devices are intended to increase engine power and performance. They allow for higher power output without sacrificing fuel economy, making them a good choice for environmentally conscious drivers.

The twin turbochargers help boost power production and improve acceleration and overall power by pumping more air into the engine. This makes them a standard component of many high-performance vehicles and sports cars. That said, twin turbochargers require regular calibration to produce the best performance. 

Advantages of Twin Turbochargers 

Crafting twin turbochargers is a symphony of engineering precision and stands as a beacon of possibilities when ingenuity and engineering prowess converge. Each component is meticulously designed to work in harmony.

The attention to detail by the manufacturers of the turbochargers allows for the system to operate efficiently. As a result, these devices continue to push the boundaries on the open road and enable an increase in horsepower

A critical advantage of twin turbochargers is their ability to balance power delivery. With two devices, engineers can tailor the system for optimal performance at different engine speeds, ensuring a consistent power curve. This gives you a power surge throughout the rev range. 

These devices contribute to improved fuel efficiency as they extract more power from a given displacement. The turbochargers have become popular among manufacturers due to their low-emission output. 

The more air goes into the engine, the more fuel combustion is improved. This provides more power, reducing the amount of unburnt fuel wasted and expelled. The process is known as volumetric efficiency.

Advantages of Twin Turbochargers
Source: shutterstock.com/ Photo Contributor: GaiBru Photo


Twin turbochargers are the pinnacle of automotive engineering, elevating the engine’s performance to new heights. A common question among many car enthusiasts is - How do twin turbochargers work? 

These devices blend power, responsiveness, and efficiency harmoniously. They extract maximum performance from an engine and serve as a testament to the ceaseless pursuit of excellence in the automotive industry. 

So, if you are looking for a highly efficient twin-turbocharger, you can contact us today!


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