While many vehicles utilize combustion engines which consume fuel to produce energy, different transmission systems exist to successfully transfer this energy throughout a vehicle to power moving parts. Among the most popular used today are automatic transmission systems, those of which require a torque converter to convey energy, unlike manual transmission systems which necessitate the use of a clutch pedal to change a vehicle’s transmission without stalling the engine. In this blog, to better understand the purpose and function of torque converters, we will dive into how they function, and the reasoning behind their specific implementation in automatic transmission systems.
To begin, torque is the measurement of an applied force that can cause an object to rotate about an axis, allowing the object to achieve angular acceleration. However, the direction of torque may vary depending on which direction the force is being applied. As such, torque can be either static or dynamic, with static torque being incapable of producing angular acceleration as opposed to dynamic torque. Regarding engines, the more torque it produces, the faster it goes.
Overall, torque converters consist of five primary components: the impeller, turbine, stator, clutch, and fluid. These parts work together to transmit dynamic torque from the engine to the rotating load being driven, effectively connecting the power source to the load. Additionally, without a stator, a torque converter would essentially serve as a fluid coupling and would not be able to effectively channel power.
When a torque converter is instigated, the process begins at the impeller. Resembling a fan, this piece is mechanically powered by the engine, and its role is to push transmission fluid through its blades while spinning. Once passing the impeller, transmission fluid will then flow into the turbine. Sitting opposite of the impeller, the turbine closely resembles the aforementioned component, but employs angled blade fans. When transmission fluid flows through the turbine, it pushes against its blades, causing the turbine to spin. In effect, this turns the transmission shaft and pump where fluid can be redirected through the center of the turbine and through the impeller once again.
However, the process does not end there. Once exiting the impeller, fluid is redirected to the stator located in the center of the torque converter. Like an impeller or turbine, the stator is fabricated with fan blades, those of which are angled in such a way that aids the flow of fluid. At this stage, the stator acts to redirect the flow of fluid, reversing its course to move in the opposite direction of the engine. This step is critical as the stator keeps transmission fluid from entering the converter housing and slowing down machinery processes.
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