What is an Intercooler – Why do you need one?

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Just like any other machinery, vehicle engines produce an immense amount of friction and heat, especially considering the heavy combustion processes that take place within. To keep the engine from overheating, a device known as a radiator was created. Its main function remained cooling the engine and keeping it optimised. Almost all traditional vehicles use this device as a cooling mechanism.

However, with the popularity of unconventional engines and modifications, these devices were rendered incompetent at keeping newer, heavy-duty engines cool. This gave rise to a need for a newer form of cooling, one that would be capable of transferring heat at a much faster pace. Thus, intercoolers were invented, a faster and cleaner way of cooling the engine and keeping your vehicle optimised.

Intercoolers are unique in their functioning and they offer several benefits for your vehicle. To know more about intercoolers and why you need one, keep on reading.

What is an Intercooler?

To put it simply, an intercooler is a mechanical device that is mounted in turbocharged engines for cooling down the compressed air being fed to the engine. Intercoolers play an essential role as without cool air, the turbocharged engine would become overheated and rendered inefficient.

Intercoolers are unique in their functioning as they use air as a medium for transferring heat. Hot air coming from the engine passes through the several tubes and fins that define the body of intercoolers. The air is compressed and cooled down while passing through these tubes, returning to the engine completely cooled.

You can find universal Intercoolers for your car, however, there are also a few types that differ in functioning and placements. Before moving forward, we shall discuss the functioning of intercoolers.

Functioning of Intercoolers

Intercoolers have a unique functioning system

As mentioned before, intercoolers use tubes and fins for dissipating heat and cooling the air. These tubes are extremely intricate and small, allowing for the highest possible surface area. When hot air passes through these tubes, the heat is dissipated into the air around the tubes. Since the tubes are extremely small and cover a lot of surface area, the air is cooled to the point that it becomes compressed.

To explain the process in simple terms, intercoolers receive warm air from the engines and make it cooler and compressed through the heat exchange that takes place in the tubes and fins. Your vehicle’s engine follows the laws of thermodynamics, meaning the greater the difference in temperature, the greater the energy will be produced. Since combustion is an extremely hot process, the cooler the air is, the higher the temperature difference will be, resulting in a much higher power.

Another reason for feeding the intake manifold of the engine with cool air is that the combustion process requires oxygen molecules to take place effectively. Compressed air has twice the number of oxygen molecules as compared to regular air. So, when compressed air is fed to the engine, the combustion process has twice the amount of oxygen molecules to use, resulting in the engine producing much more power.

Types of Intercoolers

Intercoolers have a few types that mainly differ on the basis of their design and functioning. However, their uses and basic models are quite similar.

Air-to-Air Intercoolers

Air-to-Air Intercoolers use air to cool down the fluid

These intercoolers are the most common type, mostly attached to trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles. The working of air-to-air intercoolers is quite simple as they use colder airflow to cool the warm air coming from the engine. The hot air interacts with the fins of the intercooler where most of the heat is dissipated to external air.

Air-to-air intercoolers increase the density of the air being sent back, creating much more power for the turbochargers. These intercoolers are ideal for most vehicles as they do not require any power from the engine to function. External air is used for the cooling process and there is no extra power requirement.

Air-to-Water Intercoolers

Air-to-Water Intercoolers require water to cool down the fluid

These types of intercoolers have a slightly complex functioning, yet they follow the same principle of dissipating heat from the warm air received from the engine. The unique feature of these intercoolers is the use of liquid as a coolant instead of external air. These intercoolers are much more efficient as liquids have much higher thermal conductivity as compared to air.

These intercoolers are smaller in size, making them easy to be attached. However, they are commonly placed as close to the engine as possible so that the air may not heat back up while going back to the engine.

Why do you need an Intercooler?

With everything explained earlier, it’s quite obvious why your vehicle needs an intercooler. If you own a performance or heavy-duty vehicle, an intercooler is a must-have as it will compress the air being fed to the engine and boost your car’s performance to new levels.

Moreover, intercoolers offer several benefits that are quite hard to overlook. These devices can boost horsepower, making your drive much smoother. Intercoolers are easy to install and are extremely cost-effective. All of these advantages make it a must-have for your car.

The bottom Line

Intercoolers are a must-have device for heavy-duty vehicles, increasing their performance significantly. Intercoolers come in two types, however, their uses and functioning remain the same. With all the benefits that intercoolers offer, having one installed in your vehicle is a must, especially if it has a turbocharged engine. Get the right intercooler for your car today from Turborevs and take your car’s performance to the next level!

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