How Does a Supercharger Work?

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What is a Supercharger?

  • A supercharger is an air compressor that is used to inject more air into an internal combustion engine in order to increase its power output. These are most commonly found in vehicle engines. In cars, the compressor is often driven by a turbine, in which case it is called a turbocharger.

What Does It Do?

  • Regardless of the mechanism used to inject more air into the engine, the principle behind a supercharger is fairly simple. An internal combustion engine works by using the combustion of gasoline in a cylinder to drive a piston. By injecting more air than is present in the surrounding atmosphere, there is more oxygen. More oxygen means more fuel can be burned, increasing the amount of power delivered with each work cycle.

Turbochargers

  • Turbochargers are well-known by the public, and is a type of supercharger. Any car dubbed "turbo" is using a turbocharger to create extra power. The distinction is that a turbocharger powers the air compressor using a turbine that is powered by the vehicle's own exhaust. In some ways this is more efficient. A standard supercharger derives the power for its compressor from the engine. A turbocharger uses the kinetic and heat energy found in the exhaust, which is otherwise completely wasted, and does not directly draw on the engine's own power.

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