16: What is an Intercooler and how does it work?
Intercoolers (also known as Charge Air Coolers) improve the combustion efficiency of engines fitted with forced induction (either a turbocharger or supercharger) increasing the engines power, performance and fuel efficiency.
Turbochargers compress incoming combustion air, which increases its internal energy, but also raises its temperature. Hot air is less dense than cool air, thus its combustion efficiency is reduced.
However, by installing an intercooler between the turbocharger and the engine, the incoming compressed air is cooled as it passes through the intercooler, restoring its density to give optimum combustion performance.
An intercooler acts as a heat exchanger, removing the heat generated during the turbochargers compression process. It does this by transferring the heat to an other cooling medium, which is usually either air or water.
Air cooled intercoolers
These are similar in principle to a car radiator in that cool air is drawn through the fins of the intercooler, transferring heat from the compressed turbo air to the cooler air.
Water cooled intercoolers
Where air cooling isn’t an option, water cooled Intercoolers offer a highly efficient solution. Usually based on a ‘shell and tube’ design, cold water flows through the central tube ‘core’, whilst the hot charge air flows around the tubes, transferring its heat as it travels through the heat exchangers.
Bowman manufacturer a wide range of water cooler Intercoolers (Charge Air Coolers), suitable for both marine and land based stationary engine. For more information on Bowman Charge Air Coolers