Inside look: CorkSport Turbo Design

The development and evolution of the CorkSport Performance CST5 and CST6 turbochargers are uniquely intertwined.   We’ll be honest, we started with the goal of a single larger turbo than the CST4 in mind, but as development progressed we were not getting the exact results we wanted. We wanted fast spool & transient response, huge power, and to retain the internally wastegated system.  Something had to give…we realized that we were asking too much from a single turbocharger, thus we redefined what we wanted and realized that two separate and focused turbochargers for the Mazdaspeed platform was the ideal choice.

Today we will focus on the design around the glorious CST5, specifically the theory and design around the wheel selection for the CST5 and why it works.  

The compressor wheel utilized on the CST5 is the well-known and trusted GEN1 GTX71.  Compact and efficient, this compressor is rated for 56 lbs/min flow rate with a relatively high-pressure ratio threshold.  Paired with a 4-inch anti-surge compressor housing and we have a very versatile and responsive compressor setup.

Now here is where the design begins to deviate from the standard path.  The turbine wheel is a MHI TF06 design that is designed for high performance applications.  The TF06 turbine wheel is the key to the performance of the CST5. Let’s see how and why below.

If you are unsure of the turbine wheel size don’t worry, that will get covered shortly.  For comparison, the MHI TF06 is very similar in size to the well-known GT30, but there are a few very specific differences that affect performance.  

The first and most obvious difference is the number of turbine blades; this difference has a couple benefits. First, less weight; even a small difference is weight can make a significant difference in the spool and transient response characteristics of the turbocharger.  Second, reduce flow restriction; with one less blade the “open” area through the turbine wheel exducer is increased which increases the peak flow potential for top-end power.

Next are the less obvious differences.  The GT30 has a 60mm inducer and 55mm exducer which equates to a 84trim turbine wheel vs the TF06 with a 61.5mm inducer and 54mm exducer which equates to a 77trim turbine wheel.   

There are two key values to pull from this:  First, the turbine wheel inducer directly relates to the peak flow of the wheel and the overall wheel size balance which we will cover next.  Second, the turbine wheel trim affects the spool and response characteristics of the turbocharger. The smaller the wheels trim the faster the spool and response.  

Alright here is the most important and commonly overlooked aspect of a turbocharger.  There is a rule of thumb when sizing the compressor and turbine wheels for a turbocharger.  

If the turbine is too large then the turbocharger will be very “lazy” and have trouble building boost.  

If the turbine is too small then the compressor may be overpowering the turbine wheel causing excessive exhaust gas buildup that can rob power even though you may be running a very high boost pressure.  

So what is the right balance?  From our experience in turbocharger design, development and validation along with industry professionals we have consulted there is a rule of thumb we have found when sizing the compressor and turbine wheels.  The exducer of the compressor wheel should be 10-15% larger than the inducer of the turbine wheel as shown in the image above.

So why does this work?  Well let’s look back a bit first.  Many think you can just install a larger and/or higher flowing compressor wheel onto the turbocharger to make more power.  Now that is true to a point, but quickly the approach becomes very inefficient for the engine. Forcing more air into the engine without improving the flow out of the engine can only go so far.  

Everything that goes into the engine must come out right?  Increased A/R sizing and turbine wheel sizing is the key to exhausting all the gases from the engine efficiently, and efficiency is key to making power.

With both the CST5 and CST6 development we focused on the overall performance of the engine, not just the development of a high performance turbocharger.  

Thanks for tuning in with CorkSport Mazda Performance, more to come…

-Barett @ CS

OEM Part Breakdown: 2.5L Skyactiv-G Exhaust Header

If you’ve been paying attention to the CorkSport channels, you may have seen rumors here and there of a race header for the GEN3 Mazda 3 and Mazda 6 2.5L. While I can’t say too much on that just yet, I can give you a breakdown of the OEM exhaust header that’s hiding in the back of your engine bay. Analyzing the OEM part is usually our first step in creating a new performance part and I wanted to bring you all along for the ride. It’s surprisingly complex for an OEM manifold/header and some serious engineering went into it.

Excuse the dirty part, this OEM header has had a hard life! I imagine many of you have not seen the stock header as it’s in the back of your engine bay covered in heat shields. Taking the heat shields off gives us a glimpse of the craziness that is the stock header. Mazda has gone with a true 4-2-1 design (also known as tri-y) with an integrated catalytic converter and what appears to be equal length runners. Stay with me, I’ll explain what all that means.

The image above hopefully helps you visualize the 4-2-1 design. Starting at the engine, there are four exhaust ports from the head. Each exhaust port gets its own pipe, known as a “primary”. The primaries then pair together to form two “secondaries”. Finally, the two secondaries combine into one collector pipe, in this case heading directly into the catalytic converter. The three unions or “y’s” are where the tri-y name comes from. The 4-2-1 design was chosen by Mazda for a very specific reason. Check out the image below and Mazda’s explanation HERE.

Essentially, using a very high compression ratio causes very high exhaust gas temperatures. If too much of this exhaust gas is leftover in the cylinders for the next combustion cycle, knocking can occur. In addition, if you have a short 4-1 header or a log-style manifold you can suck exhaust gas into a cylinder before combustion as one cylinder can be on an intake stroke while another is on an exhaust stroke (see the upper image in Mazda’s diagram).

The 4-2-1 has two benefits to fight this. First, the long length means the exhaust gas takes longer to traverse the pipes, so one cylinder sucking in another’s exhaust is drastically reduced. Second, the cylinders are paired correctly to one another (1 with 4 and 2 with 3). Since the firing order is 1-3-4-2, each secondary is receiving an exhaust pulse at a regular interval. If you paired 1 with 3 for example, you would receive two pulses quickly, and then a large gap as the other two cylinders fired. This helps with exhaust scavenging as the pulse from one cylinder helps “pull” the leftover exhaust from the cylinder it’s paired with. These benefits can also be present on a long tube 4-1 if designed well but, there is a good reason why Mazda did not choose this option.

Typically a well-designed 4-2-1 will make more power and torque in the midrange while a well-designed 4-1 will make more power way up at the top of the RPM range. Since normal driving does not involve being at the top of the RPM range all the time, it makes sense that Mazda went with the 4-2-1. We will likely do the same as we want to retain the low knock characteristics of the 4-2-1, high midrange power & torque, and because the SkyActive 2.5L is a fairly low revving engine.

It appears that Mazda also went with close to equal length runners. This means that each primary section is the same length and each secondary is also the same length. This ensures the exhaust pulses are arriving to the collector or Y at uniform intervals. The easiest way to explain why this is a good thing is to visual the entrance ramp to a highway.  When the cars entering the highway follow the “zipper” method for merging, the cars currently on the highway do not need to slow down. The high and entrance ramp merge and flow in a smooth and consistent rate.

However, if a surge of cars come down the entrance ramp to merge onto the highway you will get a back-up of cars on the entrance ramp and will disrupt the flow of cars on the highway.  If the cars are exhaust gases and the highway is the exhaust pipe, you can understand why equal length can help. Again, we will adopt this strategy with the CS race header.

So far so good then, as Mazda has put a lot of thought into making a high quality stock header. However, as usual there are a few areas we can improve on. That’s coming in a later blog though so you’ll have to stay tuned for more details! Let us know if you have any questions or thoughts down below.

-Daniel @ CorkSport

Mazdaspeed Turbo – Choose Your Boost

May of 2015, CorkSport launched its first high performance drop-in turbocharger for the Mazdaspeed platform.  Fast-forward almost 4 years and CorkSport again is about to redefine what a stock flange turbocharger for the Mazdaspeed platform can truly be.  

The original “CS Turbo” is now the CST4 to follow the turbo line-up that is soon to launch.  The CST4 took a fresh approach to “big turbo” with all the included hardware, gaskets, and of course direct drop-in fitment.  It removed the guess work for a quick and easy installation, but the benefits didn’t stop there. This “little big turbo” packs a punch for its compact TD05H-18G wheels.  

With the CST5 and CST6 just around the horizon it would be easy to forget about the tried and true CST4, but don’t worry this Mazdaspeed Drop-In Turbo got some new love also.  You will now have a EWG housing option for the CST4. You can pick it up in EWG setup from the start or if you already have a CST4 that you love, you can get the EWG housing kit to do the upgrade yourself.

Moving onto the CST5 & CST6 the possibilities for the MZR DISI have moved up significantly.  What started as a single “bigger big turbo” has morphed into two “bigger big turbos” that, we feel, better provide for the various power goals of the community.  

We present to you the CST5

The CST5 bridges the gap between drop-in performance and big turbo power.  The journal bearing CHRA uses a hybrid TF06-GTX71 wheel setup that provides more top-end than the CST4 with minimal spool and response penalty.  Upping the big turbo feel is a 4in anti-surge compressor inlet which will require an up-sized intake system.

Unlike the CST6, the CST5 will be offered in both internally waste-gated and externally waste-gated setups.  This provides you with the flexibility to setup your Mazdaspeed just how you see fit and both have been proven 520+whp on our in-house dyno and tuning courtesy of Will Dawson @ Purple Drank Tuning.

Now… We present to you the Stock Flange Record holder…the CST6

Image: Mazdaspeed-6-big-turbo

The CST6 redefines what the community thought was possible from the stock turbine housing flange, but first some details.  The ceramic ball bearing CHRA uses a GTX3576r wheel setup that clearly out powers the CST4 & CST5, but that’s point remember?  

The CST6 is a legit big turbo, spool will be later, but still sub 3900rpm for full boost, however a turbo setup like the CST6 is not intended for low-end response.  If top-end power is your goal, the CST6 will deliver. In-house testing has pushed the CST6 to 633whp at a fuel limited ~33psi and 7900rpm redline.

Unlike the CST4 & CST5, the CST6 will only be offered in EWG setup.

In the coming months, we will be sharing more information about the CorkSport Turbo Line-Up; the design, the testing, and validation of each.  For more information about the CST5 & CST6 along with the new EWG turbine housing option, check out these sneak peek pages.  

Thanks for tuning in with CorkSport Mazda Performance.

-Barett @ CS

SkyActiv 2.5T Cold Side Boost Tube Part 2: Testing

In case you missed it, we have been working on improving the flimsy rubber tube that comes stock on the cold side of your 2018+ Mazda 6 2.5T. Check out the first part on the cold side boost tube here and the full OEM piping & intercooler breakdown here. Since our last installment, we have been busy testing a prototype CorkSport Boost Tube and would like to share some results with you all.

Starting off we tested and data logged both the OEM tube and CorkSport Performance Boost Tube on the dyno. We were not expecting to see too much of a difference to power with just the boost tube changing however, we did see tiny improvements here and there, most notably way up at the top of the RPM range.

Check out the graph below, OEM=red, CS=green. We tested on the same day in identical conditions and the car had a CorkSport Intake and Cat Back Exhaust installed for both tests. PLEASE NOTE: the variations below 2800RPM are due to inconsistencies associated with dyno testing an automatic car.

After noticing these changes, we went to the data logs to see how the boost changed between the OEM tube and the CS Boost Tube. The graph below shows the engine RPM versus the manifold pressure in psi. Both lines have the same smoothing done to the raw data. As you can see, the CorkSport tube (green) holds about 0.5psi through the midrange (3500-5000RPM) and is almost 1psi more when above 5500RPM. This correlates well with what we saw while dyno testing.

The small increase in boost pressure is likely due to the CorkSport tube not expanding as much when under pressure. To confirm this, we capped off both ends and pressurized the each tube to 20psi. Note: do not try this at home as the caps can easily fly off and injure you.

After measuring multiple locations both before and during pressurization, we found that the OEM tube expands about 12% in internal cross-sectional area while the CorkSport Boost Tube expands 3x less at 4%. Keep in mind that this would be an even larger difference if the same test was performed with the tubes installed on the car due to the heat of the engine bay. Since silicone is more stable than rubber at high temperatures, the heat of the engine bay will not soften it nearly as much as the rubber OEM boost tube. A softer rubber tube would mean even more expansion when pressurized and even more inconsistent boost pressures.

This data may not show drastic changes but it does not tell the whole story. The larger diameter and thus larger volume of boosted air of the CS tube provides a little bit better response when low in the RPM range. While this may just be a placebo effect on our end, there’s not too much of a wait before you can try it yourselves! Stay tuned for more information. If you want a more serious upgrade though, keep your eyes out for information on the upcoming CorkSport FMIC kit and Piping Upgrade kit!

P.S. 2016+ Mazda CX-9 owners and future Mazda CX-5 2.5T owners, don’t worry we will be checking this for fitment along with other CS goodies!

-Daniel @ CorkSport

SkyActiv 2.5T: Let’s Talk Intercooler Pipe Upgrades

We recently went over the stock intercooler & piping system for the 2018+ Mazda 6 2.5T. If you missed it, be sure to check out the blog HERE.

Today, it’s the first look at the CorkSport parts that will be coming in the near future to remedy the issues we found with the OEM system. We are not covering our upgraded intercooler just yet though; today’s focus is piping upgrades!

As you can see we’ve been busy getting the upgraded intercooler piping designed & 3D printed for test fitting (while you can’t see it I promise the cold pipe is hanging out in there too!). I’m happy to say there’s plenty of room to fit the upgraded piping sizes that we were targeting and hopefully they will net us a few HP gain without any other changes.

These horsepower gains typically comes from removing sharp bends and diameter reductions in the stock piping that cause pressure losses. Then, the turbocharger can operate more efficiently to reach the desired boost level. Now how about some more detail on how and why each pipe has changed.

Starting off with the hot side of things (piping from turbo to intercooler), check out the CAD image above. As you can see, the OEM piping (left) is smaller than the CorkSport piping (right). In fact, we plan to use 2.25” piping for the hot side. Note that the plastic OEM piping is much thicker wall than the CS aluminum piping so even if the outer diameter looks similar, the inside diameter is much larger.

In addition, we keep this same inside diameter throughout while the OEM piping has a major diameter reduction through the middle. For those of you coming from a Mazdaspeed 3, 2.25” is the same size used on the hot side of all CS intercooler kits and has proven itself to support 600+WHP on Barett’s car (more info on that HERE). While we know the Sky-T may not be to that level just yet, 2.25” is a great size that gets the hot air to the intercooler as fast as possible while retaining high horsepower capabilities.

It’s not all about size though. Instead of using many tight radius direction changes like OEM, the CorkSport hot pipe uses smooth, large radius mandrel bends throughout. This means smoother and faster airflow to your intercooler. Lastly, you may notice the CS hot pipe is significantly longer than the OEM hard plastic unit (the OEM rubber tube starts at the connection point circled in the image above). This reduces the amount of flexible connector used, limiting what could expand at high boost levels. That being said, the CorkSport kit will use high strength silicone with four fabric reinforcement layers to prevent any expansion anyways.

The cold side of the system was already a decent diameter from the factory, but as you can see, we went even larger. The rubber OEM cold pipe will be replaced with a 3” diameter aluminum pipe. This large diameter pipe and huge volume of air that comes with it right before the throttle body has proven to help throttle response and reduce boost lag on our GEN2 Mazdaspeed 3 FMIC kit. We hope to get much of the same from the SkyActiv 2.5T. The cold side also uses large radius mandrel bends for smooth and fast airflow.

Lastly, the cold side piping reduces the amount of flexible connector used. And just like the hot side, each end of the pipe will use 4-ply reinforced silicone to prevent any expansion under high boost levels.

Those of you with a keen eye will have realized that our planned silicone connectors do not use the same connection style as the OEM intercooler. This is for good reason: we believe that the OEM intercooler will run out of cooling capacity before the OEM piping really becomes an issue. So a piping upgrade by itself wouldn’t show too much of a performance advantage.

In addition, we were able to design the piping to be the best it can without using the constraints of the OEM intercooler. So yes, the upcoming CorkSport intercooler upgrade will be required for the CS piping upgrade to work, but it’s so the CS piping & FMIC combo can be the best it can be for you all!

For those of you that have stuck around this long, check out this tease of a CAD model of the CorkSport FMIC & Piping kit.

And just because we like teasing you, check this early prototype out. Testing to come soon!

Stay tuned for more, as next time we will cover the intercooler itself. Also let us know your thoughts down below, we love your input!

-Daniel @ CorkSport