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Performance Superchargers

The difference between the two types of superchargers is in the method of air compression. The first type is positive displacement. Positive displacement superchargers deliver pressure at a constant, almost fixed rate at all speeds and are normally mechanically powered. The air is divided within the supercharger and deposited bit by bit into the engine. Positive displacement superchargers have four main types of pumps; Roots, Lysholm twin-screw, sliding vane, and scroll-type supercharger or G-Lader. The pumps break down further into external and internal compression pumps.

Roots superchargers have external compression pumps. These pumps allow the pressure in the intake manifold to overcome the pressure coming from the supercharger which causes pressure to backflow into the supercharger. The backflow pressure is what compresses the gas power. These pumps are not as efficient as internal compression but are efficient in moving air at low pressure differentials.

The other types of positive displacement pumps use internal compression to some extent. Internal compression pumps compress the air within the supercharger and deposit it into the engine smoothly at a fixed compression ratio. The compression ratio should favor the supercharger because if the boost pressure of the engine exceeds the compression pressure of the supercharger, backflow will occur that takes away from the efficiency of the engine. Internal compression superchargers should match or exceed the pressure of the engine for maximum efficiency.

The other type of superchargers is dynamic compressors. Unlike positive displacement superchargers, dynamic compressors deliver higher pressure at higher speeds and are normally powered by gas turbines. They excite the air to a high rate and exchange the speed with the engine for air pressure. Therefore, the more pressure within the engine, the more air velocity the supercharger will produce to exchange with the engine.

Superchargers and turbochargers both work to increase the power output of an engine but are powered differently. The main difference is that superchargers are powered directly by the engine while turbochargers are powered by the exhaust from the engine. Turbochargers can gain more power and higher fuel efficiency than superchargers but superchargers have higher throttle response and can reach top speeds faster. This is because turbochargers feed off of the exhaust which is not strong enough at first to power a turbocharger until it reaches a high RPM. When the exhaust is strong enough to start the turbocharger, the boost causes even more exhaust to give the turbocharger more power, causing a sudden surge in speed and power output after a slow start. Turbochargers do not apply boost in proportion to the RPM like superchargers.