BMW Explores Electric Supercharger Technology in Patents

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It would seem that BMW Motorrad is the latest motorcycle marque to explore the idea of forced induction for motorcycles.

This means that the Bavarians will join the ranks of Kawasaki, which has already three supercharged H2 models on the market; as well as Honda and Suzuki, which have been toying with the idea of turbocharged two-wheelers on dealership floors.

Spotted by Ben Purvis at BikeSocial (he’s on a roll lately), the German brand has filed patents locally for an electric supercharger design, with drawings seemingly using the S1000RR as its basis (for whatever that is worth).

For those not in the know, using an electric motor to power forced induction on an engine is not something new. We have seen this in the car space for a while now, and the technology got its start in Formula 1.

The concept is simple, though the application is a bit tricky. Essentially, an electric motor spins up a turbocharger/supercharger, in order to create boost for the engine.

In Formula 1, this technology was used to reduce the turbo lag, so more boost would be available for the engine at lower RPMs. But then, engineers started taking the idea one step further.

Instead of driving their forced induction off the exhaust gas (turbocharging) or off the engine’s mechanics (supercharging), they supplemented the driving force completely with an electric motor. Thus, the electric supercharger was born.

While that seems like a relatively easy idea to think of, executing the concept has turned out to be quite difficult, and requires complex engine management systems to be in place. This brings us to BMW’s patent, which focuses on how to control an electric supercharger for a two-wheeled vehicle.

While BMW is showing the idea in its patents on an S1000RR engine, the concept could carryover onto all of the German brand’s machines. This is because of the tightening emission standards coming in Europe and other markets.

As we have seen in the car industry, motorcycle manufacturers are looking at forced induction on two-wheelers as a way to combat tightening emission requirements.

This might become a fool’s errand though, because forced induction for motorcycles could be dead on arrival. It is important to note that the push for forced induction came to the four-wheeled realm well before electric vehicle technology was even a glimmer in the eyes of OEMs.

But now, electric vehicles are increasingly showing themselves to be the future, and the technological advantage offered by an electric motor might be worth more than merely powering a large compressor.

As we expressed before, it would seem motorcycle manufacturers would be doing themselves a bigger service if they looked towards hybrid powertrains as a step to the future, rather than propping up a dying technology like internal combustion with something like forced induction.

Who knows, maybe the Germans are working on both ideas.

Source: BikeSocial