Engine - Supercharging and Nitrous Oxide
Supercharging never gained the popularity of turbocharging among the import and compact car community, which is a
real shame, because small, four cylinder engine cars would really benefit from the low and midrange power
improvements that a supercharger system provides.
Engine preparation and control system requirements are very similar to that of
For higher boost
systems, the compression needs to come down, for high compression Ė low boost systems, a more sophisticated control
system is required. Cost and installation has advantages, because there is no need for a heavy manifold, and no
need for a wastegate.
However, supercharging does pose some challenges.
- The supercharger unit competes for space on the accessory belt side of the engine, where the power steering
pump, air conditioner, radiator reservoir, and windshield washer tank, are all located.
- The belt drive system requires a wider, eight V belt (or cogged belt), with a rather large diameter crank
pulley, that would not easily fit between the 4X engine and the unibody frame rail formed into the side of the engine
- Changing the boost pressure level involves making another diameter of drive belt pulley and installing it on
the engine, instead of adjusting a turbo boost controller.
- And, because supercharging is less common, the supercharger units themselves tend to be quite a bit more
expensive than the equivalent turbocharger.
Nitrous oxide is the old favorite for cheap, easy, and less-than-reliable power.
If done in a professional way, the engine would be built similarly to a
or supercharged engine, with lower
compression and stronger internals. But persons who are normally attracted to nitrous oxide are usually of the
mindset that would not prepare the engine to handle the added stress, and usually lack the judgment and control
to keep from blowing up their engine.
Even when used responsibly, nitrous has some pretty serious drawbacks.
- It makes power only when the tank is spraying.
- If the compression ratio of the engine is lowered to allow for use of lots of nitrous, it runs like a tractor
engine when the nitrous is not spraying.
- If the driver likes to use that power frequently, the tank is often empty.
- The tank has to be refilled at a speed shop.
- Itís pretty expensive to refill the tank.
- Just about the only form of motorsport that allows the use of nitrous is drag racing, and import drag racing
has lost a lot of the popularity it had in the late 1990ís.
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