What are Turbochargers and Superchargers?

Superchargers and turbochargers are both ways of sending cooled, compressed air into the engine to create more power in the engine. This type of air is called boost, which is usually measured in PSI. Boost gives the engine more power because there are more molecules of air to ignite in the engine, causing the speed of the engine cycle (intake, compression, ignition, exhaust) to increase. For these to properly work, to be effective, and to create real power figures, the engine must be able to withstand the quickly increased speed of the engine. 
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A Turbocharger
Today, the most common commercially used method of delivering boost into the engine is a turbocharger. The turbocharger uses the exhaust of the engine to spool a small fan that compresses outside air into a more durable intercooler than other non-turbocharged vehicles. The intercooler cools the air, further condensing it, and then the air is sent back into the engine, creating more power. Many cars today with four-cylinder engines use turbochargers to produce more horsepower without using extra cylinders. The phrase "there's no replacement for displacement," commonly used by muscle car enthusiasts and V12 supercar fans, is slowly being proved incorrect. More and more supercars are using fewer cylinders with the replacement of turbochargers. It is evident in Aston Martin's recently unveiled AM-RB 003, which uses a twin-turbo (just a fancy name for one twin-scroll turbo which is fundamentally what I just explained) V6 instead of a V8 or V12 which some Aston Martins have utilized in the past. The movement towards fewer cylinders is perpetuating the ever loved gas-powered vehicle. 

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A Centrifugal Supercharger
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A twin-screw supercharger
The other way a car can produce boost for its engine is through a supercharger, which is mostly used in muscle cars such as the Dodge Charger Hellcat and Shelby Ford Mustang GT500. Although this is where superchargers are most used in commercial use, they are often added in the aftermarket to smaller engines. Superchargers create a boost with the power of the engine itself. In a centrifugal supercharger, a belt attached to the engine spins a fan, like a turbocharger, and sends compressed air into the intercooler and back to the engine. Other superchargers, like the root supercharger and the twin-screw supercharger, use long screw-like metal pieces that interlock and spin to compress air into the intercooler. 
Turbochargers and superchargers are great ways of creating more power with fewer cylinders while saving the planet a little bit as well. Hopefully, further innovations will help these "spinny-boys" live on in the future with the impending doom that will come to gas-powered cars from the electric power movement. 


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