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  A wastegate is a valve that diverts exhaust gases away from the turbine wheel in a turbocharged engine system. Diversion of exhaust gases regulates the turbine speed, which in turn regulates the rotating speed of the compressor. The primary function of the wastegate is to regulate the maximum boost pressure in turbocharger systems, to protect the engine and the turbocharger.

Wastegate sizing is invsersely proportionate to the desired level of boost and is somewhat agnostic to the size or power of the engine. One vendor's guide for wastegate sizing is as follows:

  • big turbo/low boost = bigger wastegate

  • big turbo/high boost = smaller wastegate

  • small turbo/high boost = smaller wastegate

  • small turbo/low boost = bigger wastegate

Wastegate types: External wastegate and Atmospheric/divorced wastegates

An external wastegate
Is a separate self-contained mechanism typically used with turbochargers that do not have internal wastegates. An external wastegate requires a specially constructed turbo manifold with a dedicated runner going to the wastegate. The external wastegate may be part of the exhaust housing itself. External wastegates are commonly used for regulating boost levels more precisely than internal wastegates in high power applications, where high boost levels can be achieved. External wastegates can be much larger since there is no constraint of integrating the valve or spring into the turbocharger and turbine housing. It is possible to use an external wastegate with an internally gated turbocharger. This can be achieved through a specially designed bracket that easily bolts on and restricts the movement of the actuator arm, keeping it from opening. Another route involves welding the internal wastegate shut which permanently keeps it from opening, but failure of the weld can allow it to open again.

Atmospheric/divorced wastegates
A "divorced" wastegate dumps the gases directly into the atmosphere, instead of returning them with the rest of an engine's exhaust. This is done to prevent turbulence to the exhaust flow and reduce total back pressure in the exhaust system. Divorced wastegate dumper pipes are commonly referred to as "screamer pipes" due to the unmuffled waste exhaust gases and the associated loud noises they produce.

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