How do centrifugal superchargers work?

Your car arrives from the factory. Bolted under the hood is an engine that makes modest power, and it does so by breathing just fine on its own. It could make power though and that extra motivation could easily come by way of a bit of forced induction.

It’s time to supercharge your ride. But first, you should probably learn how a supercharger performs its magic. Let’s allow Jason Fenske from a few minutes of your time to school you on supercharger science.

The most basic bit you need to know is that a supercharger crams more air into your cylinders. You’re forcing the induction of more air into an area of your engine that really likes that air. To mingle with that extra air, you’re going to want more fuel and increasing the amount of air and fuel being burned up through combustion you’ll see your power levels rise.

A centrifugal supercharger is driven by the engine itself. Fenske demonstrates this by picking up an actual supercharger. It’s a Vortec setup, and it comes as part of a kit that has all the parts you need to get moving.

A pulley attached to the engine spins a belt that in turn spins the supercharger. The impeller on the supercharger then sucks in air through an air filter. A bit of piping then feeds that air either into an intercooler or straight into the engine. This kit cools that air down by forcing it through an air-to-water intercooler before passing it on to the intake valves.

Fenske points out that a centrifugal supercharger does its best work higher up in the rev range. That’s because the impeller is spinning ever faster and working to pull more and more air into the engine. It’s a good fit for the Honda S2000 project car shown in the video.

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