An Intercooler is an integral part of a modern turbocharged engine. Its main function is to cool hot air before it goes in the engine. Today we have this guide on What is Intercooler What Are its Different Types?
A lot of people must have seen a metallic component on the front end of a vehicle, behind the intakes in the bumpers. This is known as an Intercooler. The component can also be placed in other areas, just behind the engine area where the air is supplied from the top hood that is present on the bonnet of some cars. There are also different types and classifications of an Intercooler, and today we will have a look at the function and types of it.
The main purpose of an Intercooler is performance-oriented. An engine makes power by mixing fuel and oxygen to make a bang, which pushes the piston down and turns the crankshaft. The more air an engine can get in, the more fuel can be injected to make more power. This is the reason why turbochargers are becoming more prevalent in modern vehicles as it is a great way of generating more power across a wider rev range of an engine.
But an issue with a turbocharger is when it is compressing the air, the temperature of the air increases, thus reducing the density. This is where an Intercooler’s part comes in as the compressed air from the turbocharger is sent to the Intercooler. The Intercooler brings the temperature down of the compressed air which increases its density, letting more air being able to go into the engine.
Another aspect of an Intercooler is that catalytic converters don’t like very hot air coming into them after the combustion process. Higher combustion temperatures lead to high levels of exhaust gas emissions, a huge no-no. An Intercooler ensures that the temperature of the exhaust gases is not dangerously high and the emission system functions properly.
Classification and Working of an Intercooler
The process of an Intercooler is fairly simple. There are generally two types of Intercoolers, Air-to-Air and Air-to-Water. Let’s take a look at both of them.
An Air-to-Air Intercooler consists of a metallic component with tubes all over it which help the flow of the air through the Intercooler. There are other connections also within the body of the Intercooler to increase its surface area. Hot air enters the Intercooler from the outlet of the turbocharger and flows through these tubes. The atmospheric air cools these tubes from the outside and the hot air inside the Intercooler gets cooled. This heat is released into the atmosphere and the outlet of the Intercooler leads the cooled air directly into the intake manifold of the engine. Therefore, the air temperature after the compression process is reduced, causing the air to become denser. This denser air can now be mixed with more fuel which increases the power output. Also, the catalytic converter works efficiently when the temperature of the exhaust gases is not too high.
Pros and Cons
An Air-to-Air Intercooler has a simpler construction, fewer components, less weight and no need for a hydraulic setup as is the case with Air-ot-Water Intercooler. One of the cons of this system is that since it is air-cooled, it has to placed at the front of the car. This leads to the piping required to connect the components and the route taken by the air from the turbocharger to the Intercooler and then to the engine being a bit longer, which might affect the response of the engine.
High-performance cars usually come with an Air-to-Water Intercooler as they need the faster responses and budget is not an issue. The construction is more complex than an Air-to-Air Intercooler because it involves the introduction of a coolant, pump and reservoir. Additionally, an entire hydraulic system has to be integrated into the engine along with an extra heat exchanger on the front. The actual Intercooler is placed inside the intake manifold or anywhere closer to the engine, resulting in a shorter route for the air to flow and increases the responses from the engine.
An Air-to-Water Intercooler has a faster response time from the engine which is very important when you’re trying to get the maximum performance out of your vehicle. The placement is also nearer to the engine bay. But the disadvantage of this system is that it involves many components like the heat-exchanger, pump, reservoir and much more and there is also the danger of the coolant leaking/
Advantages include faster response times from the engine which is of utmost importance when you are focused on getting the maximum performance out of your car. The placement also is nearer to the engine bay. The disadvantages are a complex system involving many components like the heat-exchanger, pump, reservoir and much more. There is also the danger of leaks of the coolant. We hope that this article helped you in understanding the function of an Intercooler and helped you in understanding how an engine works, without being too technical.