Superchargers and Turbochargers

Functions of turbochargers and superchargers in a car

Both superchargers and turbochargers are used in cars to boost the engine power through the compression of the air entering the engine. The more the air getting to the engine, the more the fuel being used thus more engine power being sparked. They increase the engine's efficiency by allowing more air to enter the engine for ignition to produce more power (Warner, 2006).

How turbochargers work

A turbocharger in a car is powered by the exhaust gases jetting out from the engine after combustion. It has a turbine with connection to the compressor by a shaft. The exhaust gases from the exhaust manifold of the engine, goes through the turbine of the supercharger, which in turn runs the compressor. The compressor then increases the air pressure and density by compressing the air being taken in from the intake manifold. The air goes through the impeller, which channels the air through it causing it to spin faster increasing pressure of the intake air. The compressed air is then mixed with fuel and then ignited by the spark from the plug in the combustion chamber. This will then boost the power produced by the engine.


How superchargers work

A supercharger has its power from the crankshaft of an engine. It has its connection through a series of belts or chains from the crankshaft. There are three major types of superchargers, namely: Centrifugal superchargers, roots superchargers and Twin-screw superchargers. In a Centrifugal supercharger, the series of belts is connected to a drive gear, which is in cooperated by a series of gears to connect a compressor. The compressor has an impeller in which the airflow moves outwards as it hits it. The air is forced to radiate outside at a very high speed but comparatively low pressure. It then gets to a diffuser stage. The diffuser then converts the low pressure and high-speed air to high pressure and low speed. This air has a large volume, which implies that when it is ignited, more electrical sparks are produced thus more power is outputted. This is an increase in the power of the engine (McBrewster, Vandome & Miller, 2009).


Superchargers have less complexity when it comes to construction since it is only integrated with the engine by belt connections, unlike the turbochargers, which needs an extensive modification of its exhaust system (MacInnes, & MacInnes, 1987). Superchargers does not have the effect of the time lag unlike the turbochargers which suffers greatly from the getting the feel when the gas pedal is acted upon by the driver.

Superchargers does not need any special protocol when it comes to shutting down, since they are not lubricated by the engine oil thus can shut down normally. However, Turbochargers has to idle for sometime before being shut down to give the engine oil and ample time to cool down (Dorries, 2004).

Advantages of turbochargers

There is minimal wastage. This is so because it uses the waste gases being exhausted to run the compressor to increase the air density. Turbochargers are cost effective. By the simple engineering that it is being used, its maintenance is quite simple to repair in case of a malfunction. There is an increase in power boost normally in the engines with low revolution per minute.

Advantages of supercharges

They are able to produce more power generally in engines with low speeds. The engine horsepower is greatly increased. There is minimal lag time. This means that when a car driver changes the gas pedal, its effect is immediately executed and felt with minimal time (Asthana  & Jain, 2002). It can be easily installed. This is because it does not depend on the engine oil for its operation nor shutdown.

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