These Excellent Animations Show Exactly How Turbochargers and Superchargers Work

With forced induction quickly becoming the norm on today’s cars, it’s important to understand how it all works. Turbo- and superchargers are fairly simple devices in principle, but a good visual is sometimes the best way to show how something functions.
A reader just sent me a link to what may be the single easiest and most entertaining way to learn how superchargers and turbochargers work. It’s a short and sweet webpage filled with crystal clear animations, pictures, descriptions and just general badass-ery.
The webpage, entitled “Supercharger vs. Turbo,” starts with the supercharger animation below, which—on their site—you can rotate with your mouse for a closer look. The animation includes labels for various components, and down below are descriptions of those components.

While the supercharger uses a crankshaft-driven belt to rotate the compressor—which sucks air through the intake, pressurizes the intake manifold, and ultimately sends more air into the engine—a turbocharger uses exhaust energy to do the compressor-spinning. Here’s an animation of a turbo:

The animations are simple enough for even the most mechanically averse to understand, but details enough for the best automotive engineers to appreciate. Tyroola’s site lets users explore a cutaway of a supercharged V6 and a turbocharged inline-four in 360 degrees, with key components and airflow all cleanly indicated. The site also explains the three most common types of superchargers–roots, twin-screw, and centrifugal–and the three popular turbocharging setups–single turbo, twin turbo, and twin scroll.
It’s a badass page, so go check it out and get enlightened on turbos and superchargers. Because hey, you have to talk about something at parties.

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