From a mechanical standpoint, keeping a car cool sound like a straightforward process: attach a huge radiator to it, add some plumbing, and fill it with water. Everything is fine as long as the temperature gauge doesn’t get too high.
However, a lot of thermodynamic cunning is employed in the background to keep a car inside its safe-working temperature range. However, there is another way to employ a heat exchanger. A correctly constructed and installed heat exchanger can significantly increase an engine’s performance. Intercoolers help to generate more horses by doing just that and can be employed in a variety of ways.
As the cooling fluid that removes heat moves at 90 degrees to the warm fluid, an intercooler kit is what is referred to as a cross-flow heat exchanger. Within the intercooler, tubes and fins are used to facilitate the interaction of these fluids. The warm fluid is channeled via hollow tubes that run the length of the heat exchanger from the inlet to the output after being adequately cooled by the intercooler.
However, the fins, which cover the intercooler’s surface area, are what provide the cooling. They can be aligned in a corrugated pattern to maximize the heat exchanger’s surface area for the most effective heat dissipation to the surroundings. Simply said, intercoolers use heat exchange to turn warm air entering your engine into cold air.
According to the laws of thermodynamics, the more energy is generated through combustion the greater the temperature differential between the incoming air through the manifold and the temperature of combustion inside the cylinder. Therefore, a colder intake results in a greater temperature difference and higher power.
When installed in a turbocharged or supercharged vehicle, where the inlet air would normally be made too warm by the turbocharger or supercharger spooling up, an intercooler performs at its best. Using yet further thermodynamic concepts, it can be shown that when a fluid’s pressure is raised, so too does its temperature. As a result, a turbocharger’s boost pressure abruptly raises the temperature and pressure of the input air, which, if not cooled, will result in an inefficient engine.
To avoid this, an intercooler is positioned between the turbocharger and the engine’s inlet. This allows the air to cool down just enough before it enters the cylinders and interacts with the incoming fuel. Without an intercooler doing its task, warm air produced by a supercharger or another device would serve as a favorable environment for pre-ignition. This indicates that fuel is burned prematurely in the engine cycle, which decreases the engine’s efficiency and power and may even result in damage.
Intercoolers hold the secret to successfully forced induction due to their air-cooling capabilities, even though they can be extremely difficult to integrate into an engine and powertrain system.
With practically every automaker downsizing and using turbocharging, expect to see many of the heat exchangers under the hoods of your future automobiles. An intercooler designed to the right size could liberate valuable power from an engine. They could resemble a tacky fashion accessory in the world of modified cars, but in this case, utility outweighs appearance.