#horsepower PHOENIX, AZ

Supercharger Upgrades

What is a supercharger?

Starting from the early days of Henry ford and his motorized horse carriage, automotive enthusiasts, engineers, and speed junkies have been searching for ways to increase the power output of the internal combustion motor. The first attempts at increasing power was to simply place a larger engine in the vehicle. However larger engines aren’t always practical, they typically cost more to build and maintain, weigh more, and are difficult to fit into the engine bay of a vehicle.

Thankfully there is a better way to add power to your engine that will not only add ponies and rubber melting torque, but will improve the efficiency and provide you instant on power. You can accomplish more power by simply forcing more air into the combustion chamber which when supplemented with a little more fuel, is a recipe for the neck snapping power you’ve been dreaming of.

Forced induction is without a doubt the best way to improve the horsepower and torque of your car, truck, or SUV. Forced air literally supercharges engine performance by compressing the air flowing into your motor resulting in dense, oxygen rich air in the air/fuel ratio. This allows the motor to burn more fuel and due more work, which results in increased horsepower and torque.

There are two types of forced induction upgrades that can add boost to your motor to increase power. The first is a turbo charger which utilizes a turbine spun by the exhaust gas from the combustion process to compress the incoming air. The second forced air induction upgrade is a supercharger which is driven mechanically by a belt, gear, shaft, or chain which is connected to the engine’s crankshaft. As the crankshaft turns on a motor, the mechanical connection to the supercharger in turn turns a series of screws in the supercharger which compress the air that is sucked in through the induction system.

How Does A SuperCharger Work?

The typical four-stroke motor dedicates one stroke to the process of air intake. As the piston moves down in the combustion chamber, a vacuum is created which sucks air into the chamber at atmospheric pressure. Once the air is drawn into the motor, it is combined with fuel to form a charge which is a packet of potential energy which can be transformed into useful kinetic energy through the chemical reaction known as combustion. A spark plug is used to “spark” or initiate the combustion process which is essentially a chemical reaction. As the fuel is oxidized in the process, a good amount of energy is released which in turn drives the piston down and creates a reciprocating motion on the crankshaft which is eventually transferred to the wheels.

In order to boost the performance of your engine, you essentially need to create a more powerful explosion in the combustion changer. Unfortunately, you can’t just add more fuel to the combustion mixture for a more powerful explosion, you need more oxygen to go along with it. Combustion requires a 14 part to one part fuel mixture which means you need a larger volume of oxygen in your mixture to create a more powerful explosion. The bottom line for an engine performance upgrade is you need more air for more power.

Enter the supercharger. A supercharger will increase the oxygen levels in your engines combustion chamber by compress the air drawn in through the intake system to above atmospheric pressure without creating a vacuum. By compressing the air, the supercharger is providing a “boost” through the use of addition air and fuel added to the combustion charge. On average, a supercharger will add an average of 45% more horsepower and 30% more torque to your car, truck, or SUV.

Superchargers, unlike turbocharger, utilize the mechanical power created by the crankshaft to drive the air compression screws. Connected to the crankshaft through an accessory belt or chain, the supercharger contains an internal compression gear with rotors to compress air into a smaller space before discharging it into the engine’s intake manifold. The benefits of a supercharger over a turbo charger is it’s instant power characteristics. Because the compression blades are connected to the crankshaft, the second a combustion takes place, the screws of the supercharger are turned. A turbocharger in contrast relies on the exhaust gases exiting the combustion chamber to spin the internal compressor which results in a delay before the compressed air enters the combustion chamber. This is often referred to as “turbo lag”.

To pressurize incoming air properly, a supercharger compressor screw must spin more rapidly than the engine itself. This is accomplished by utilizing larger drive gears than the compressor gear which allows superchargers to spin at speeds as high as 50,000 to 65,000 (RPM). A supercharger compressor that spins at 50,000 RPM translates to a boost of approx. six to nine pounds per square inch. Atmospheric pressure at sea level is 14.7 psi, therefore the typical boost created by a supercharger equates to approx. 50% more into to the engine.

When a supercharger compresses the intake air coming into the motor, the air gets hotter causing it to lose its density. Lack of density results in less expansion during the ignition. In order for a supercharger to work at peak efficiency, the compressed air created by the supercharger needs to be cooled. Air cooling in a supercharger is accomplished through the use of an intercooler. An intercooler comes in two basic designs, air to water intercoolers and air to air intercoolers. Both intercooler designs work exactly like the radiator in a car where cool air or water is sent through a series of pipes and tubes to cool the air. As the hot, compressed air exits the supercharger and encounters the cooler pipes, it cools down resulting in increased air density before entering the combustion chamber.