To improve the car engine performance, we can use superchargers. What is the best supercharger? Is the Whipple supercharger as revolutionary as it looks? We’ll discuss everything you need to know about superchargers, their types, and how you can benefit from installing one on your car.
The industrial revolution started with steam engines, and they have changed how the entire world works. Not only have they made our lives easier, but they have also provided comfort and fun. The invention of the internal combustion engine was groundbreaking, and humanity has taken another step forward thanks to it.
It has led us to cars, motorcycles, planes, and the industry is still improving by the day. One thing that hasn’t changed after all these years is that, regardless of how much horsepower an engine has, people always want more.
To understand how Whipple superchargers work and what they have to offer, we need to take a step back and talk about engines. Internal combustion engines or ICE are heat engines whose primary source of power is combustion.[read more]
There are five stages of ICE’s working:
- Suction or intake
These stages apply to any type of internal combustion engine. During the first step of the process, the piston creates a vacuum in the combustion chamber. The carburetor feeds the mixture of fuel, and it leads to the second stage.
Once the mixture of air and fuel is in the chamber, the valve closes. The piston starts compressing the fluid, which results in an increase in temperature, pressure, and density. The process can vary when it comes to ignition.
There are two types of ignition—spark and compression ignition. The former uses a spark plug to ignite the fluid, while the latter relies on the heat caused by compression. This is also one of the main differences between Diesel and Otto engines.
Diesel engines are self-igniting, and they take air only during the intake stage. The fuel injector sprays diesel into the cylinder shortly before the piston reaches peak compression. The process allows the fuel to ignite instantly, moving the piston in the lower position.
The last stage is exhaust. The valve opens, allowing the cylinder to release the gases.
The most common types of engines are:
A stroke is a full movement of the piston in either direction. With the four-stroke engine, for example, the piston will go through all five stages in four strokes (two down and two up).
The only way to get more engine power is to burn more fuel. Since nothing can burn without oxygen, the cylinder needs to be bigger to allow more space for the mixture of fuel and air.
The main problem here is that the bigger the engine, the heavier it is, and it might need more time to rev. Air compressors come into play here. Both turbochargers and superchargers are air compressors. They enable the engine to receive denser air, allowing it to burn more fuel.
What is the difference between superchargers and turbochargers? They have a similar function, but they work in different ways. Turbochargers were previously known as superturbochargers, and they use turbines to deliver compressed air to the ICE. They are placed on the exhaust system, and they use exhaust gases released by the engine to power the turbine.
Superchargers are mechanical devices connected to the crankshaft. They are driven by the belt connected to the engine. There are several different types of superchargers based on how they compress air. The first patented supercharger in a car was made by Gottlieb Daimler of Daimler-Benz.
There are three main types of superchargers. All types compress air to allow cylinders to burn more fuel. What makes them different is how they achieve this. The three types are:
Centrifugal superchargers use centrifugal force to increase the pressure and allow the engine to use more fuel. Turbocharged engines work in a similar way, i.e., the turbo is a type of centrifugal superchargers. The only difference is that a turbo uses a turbine instead of being belt-driven.
The second type, the Roots-type supercharger, uses a set of identical stretched gears to drive the fluid from the intake to the engine. The name comes from its inventor Francis Marion Roots, and Daimler used it in 1921 when making the first supercharged car. Roots-style superchargers (also known as blowers) are popular for drag and street racing, and car enthusiasts love showing them off. It’s not rare to see this type of supercharger protruding from the hood.
The twin-screw supercharger is similar to the Roots-type in design, but with one difference—it doesn’t use two identical and symmetrical rotors (or screws), but one male and one female part. Both Roots and twin-screw superchargers are powered by a belt connected to the crankshaft. The twin-screw type of supercharger also goes by the name Lysholm after the Swedish inventor Alf Lysholm.
Two identical rotors
Male and female rotor
Works on high rpm
Works on low rpm
Works on low rpm
Higher than Roots-type
No heating problems
Creates a lot of heat
Less heat than Roots
Bulky, on top of the engine
Similar design as centrifugal
Compact, placed in front of the engine
A lot has changed since the release of the Mercedes Kompressor model in the 1920s. There have been a lot of improvements and variations to the already seen belt-driven superchargers, and the Whipple is just one of many options.
The Whipple supercharger is a subcategory of the twin-screw supercharger with two different rotors. The male rotor only has three lobes, while the female one has five. Roots blowers always have the identical number of lobes on both rotors—two, three, or four.
Both rotors run at high speeds, and the tolerances need to be exceptional since the space between the two rotors is minimal. Companies designing these blowers need to be precise, and the tolerances can be within 50 μm. This also means that twin-screw (and Whipple) superchargers are more expensive compared to the alternative. The need to make two rotors with precision is the primary reason for the higher prices.
We measure superchargers by how much air they can transfer to the engine with a single rotation. The unit used for measurement is a cubic centimeter. The biggest Whipple supercharger so far is 8.3 liters, but there is no way you could fit it under the hood. You are more likely to find a Whipple supercharger of around 2.9 liters instead.
A smaller supercharger will be more than enough, and it can give your car a boost of 50–100 horsepower on average. It depends on the type of supercharger and the type of engine. It can increase the power by up to 60% if everything is installed correctly.
The two rotors rotate in opposite directions. The rotor’s lobes move past each other with every rotation, trapping the air in the process. As they continue to rotate, the air is forced to move through the casing.
Each rotation compresses the air by reducing the space between the rotor and the casing. Rotors continue with compression until the air reaches the outlet. The outlet leads to the manifold, which supplies the cylinders with the compressed mixture of air and fuel.
There are three main steps in the workings of the Whipple air compressors:
The same process happens on all segments of the two rotors. That is why everything needs to be designed and engineered with precision. Rotors don’t touch one another at any point, nor do they get in contact with the casing. This design also increases the lifespan of the supercharger.
The change in the pressure of the fluid causes a temperature increase, regardless of the type of ICE. Compressing the air in the cylinder mixed with fuel will cause a detonation (either self-igniting or via spark plug), and it might damage the engine.
While the cylinder is designed to withstand the explosion, temperatures higher than they are supposed to be can still cause problems. The solution the Whipple supercharger offers is an intercooler.
An intercooler can lower the temperature of the air coming to the engine, and that way, further increase its density. With a lower discharge temperature, the supercharger is more effective, and it provides better airflow.
Nothing is perfect, and neither are Whipple superchargers. Although they are efficient and they increase the engine power, there are still some drawbacks we need to discuss.
Makes power even on low rpm
Can be expensive
More efficient than Roots-type
Still noisier compared to centrifugal
Adds more hp, torque, and overall boost
Might require more space
No turbo lag
Installation can be challenging
Less noise compared to blowers
Reduces the efficiency of the engine
Doesn’t require a lot of maintenance
Can affect engine without proper care
Doesn’t interfere with the exhaust system
Carbon emission is not efficient
Requires less maintenance
Not designed for all vehicles
Can cause a spike in temperature
The cons in this table might pose a real problem for some drivers. Noise and air pollution can be an issue, and no amount of power will be able to compensate for that. If you consider that not everyone is into drag racing, you can see why superchargers might not be to everyone’s taste.
The choice is simple for those who are into tuning and improving both fuel economy and engine power. Supercharges do an excellent job, and the Whipple-type is worth considering.
Whipple blowers don’t require a lot of maintenance. The only thing you’ll need to do is change the oil in the supercharger. It is recommended to replace the oil every 100,000 miles.
Installing a Whipple supercharger is simple, at least in theory. You need to know a few things before you can proceed to install a Whipple on your car. Beware that buying a supercharger and installing it on your own requires both patience and knowledge.
Here are some things to consider before installing a Whipple:
- It requires time
- You might need to pay more for the installation
- There are different options to choose from
- It might require internal modifications
- It’s not the best choice for small engines
If you decide to install a Whipple yourself, you need to decide on the model you want to buy. You also need to think about size as getting a supercharger too big for the car will cause additional problems.
If you don’t want to be forced to drill a hole in the hood, you need to plan everything beforehand. There is also an alternative.
If you want to spare yourself unnecessary work, you can always get a Whipple supercharger kit. These kits are designed to provide you with everything you need to install the part in your car.
This means that you will not only get a supercharger—the kit includes mounting plates, belts, pulleys, intercoolers, etc. The type of kit you need depends on the car you own, and each kit is designed for a different brand and model. Whether you own a Dodge 440 or Mustang GT, once you buy the appropriate kit, you will have everything you need for installation.
Getting a kit is your best option as these components are designed and tested to work in unison. Most kits are designed for stock models of cars, which means you might need to do additional work if you have already modified the engine.
The best option by far is to go for the complete kit since these include tuning modifications and fuel systems, so you won’t have to worry about a thing. Going for authorized installers will allow you to save money and get a warranty for up to five years.
Car enthusiasts are curious about the advantages of and differences between the three types of superchargers. It’s only natural since these blowers have the same purpose and similar design.
Since many iconic cars, like Shelby GT500, and even those from movies, such as Dodge Charger from the “Fast and Furious” franchise, have Roots blowers, you could assume that this type is a superior option.
The main reasons why many drivers opt for Roots blowers are their history and great looks. Since they have been around for almost a century, installing one in your car is like capturing a piece of history.
Whipple superchargers are more efficient though. Modern engineering allows for meticulous design, which makes them more efficient and effective and overall better for boosting your car. This doesn’t mean that the Roots-type is deficient; it just goes to show that Whipple can offer so much more, such as:
- Lower power consumption
- Lower temperatures
- Reduced noise
- Internal compression
- Reduced parasitic loss
Both types of blowers might have problems with temperature increase, which is why the Whipple-type comes with intercoolers. It both reduces the temperature and increases the density of the air provided to the engine. Another great thing about Whipple superchargers is that they are available for both old and new vehicles.
The simple answer is that they are fun, and they can improve the performance of your vehicle and give your engine a boost. Whether you are into drag racing, muscle cars, or towing, increased power is what you are looking for, and Quarter Mile Addiction can help you.
Improving the engine performance has never been easier, and you will enjoy having more horsepower and torque. The best thing is that you can find Whipple superchargers easily, and they are suitable for different types of vehicles.
Whipple supercharger Mustang is a great article we’ve put together for anyone looking to supercharger their Mustang. You will learn more about the different generations of Mustang, how to find a supercharger kit for your Mustang, Installation, maintenance and more.[/read]