Hooniverse Asks- Turbocharged or Supercharged?

The old racing maxim goes Injection is nice, but I’d rather be blown. Of course, who wouldn’t? But which method of forced induction blows up your skirt? The history of supercharging go back to the earliest days of the automobile, as engine designers attempted to maximize the amount of combustible air they could get into the cylinders, and increase horsepower.  In 1896 Rudolph Diesel patenting a supercharger device for his eponymous compression ignition engine. In comparison, turbocharging is a relative newcomer as the Swiss engineer Alfred Büchi developed the first successful  turbo engine, in 1925. Each method of forced induction has the same goal- creating a denser charge of air, which in turn supplies more fuel to the fire with each ignition stroke and upping horsepower. But they also have their different methodologies in achieving this goal, and in special purpose applications – i.e. certain types of racing – one is preferred over the other. Supercharging can be a more simple and compact installation- being unencumbered by exhaust plumbing, and only requiring a fat belt strapped between the blower and the crank. Because of that physical connection, the pressure increase is directly proportional to engine speed- the faster you go, the faster you go. The downside is that the blower is constantly on, sucking extra fuel even when sitting at idle, unless equipped with a Mad Max-esque clutch. That instant-on power application makes superchargers the preferred method of forced induction on the drag strip, where success or failure is determined in hundredths of a second. Turbocharging, on the other hand, is sometimes considered “free power” as it utilizes the exhaust gas pressure to spin its compressor, and as engines can be adapted to the increase in back pressure that engenders, there’s little cost in efficiency over a naturally aspirated engine. However, lacking that direct, physical connection to engine speed increases means that the turbocharged motor may not be as responsive to throttle inputs as you might like. Due to that “turbo lag” has been added to the automotive lexicon as the devices have become more prominent in passenger cars. Turbos also require a great deal of plumbing under the hood, and as they use the gasses that only nano-seconds before were exploding inside the cylinders, they can become lava-hot, causing serious challenges to engine longevity if not properly engineered. So, if you’re ride is to be blessed with some forced induction, which would you prefer, turbos or blowers? Image sources: [turbobygarrett.com, retrothing.com, Chevrolet.com, Automobilemag.com]

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