Turbochargers And Superchargers

Turbocharger & Supercharger - Aviatorsbuzz
(Source: Wikipedia)

“Supercharger” is the generic term for an air compressor used to increase the pressure or density of air entering an engine, providing more oxygen with which to burn fuel. Whereas, a “turbocharger” is simply a supercharger that is instead powered by a turbine in the exhaust stream.

The purpose and function of both are the same, the principal difference being that a supercharger is mechanically driven by a direct connection to the engine whereas a turbocharger is turbine-driven using engine exhaust gas flow.                                           

Reason for power augmentation of the engine

Since the density of the air reduces as the aircraft climbs, the weight of the fuel in the mixture (fuel + compressed air) has to be reduced to retain the mixture strength at the optimum. The fact, that the atmospheric pressure is reducing while climbing means that less air and less fuel is fed into the engine as the aircraft gains altitude.

At the same time, the problem of reduced power output with an increase in altitude can be overcome by the use of a power augmentation device like a supercharger.

TUrbocharger & Supercharger - Aviatorsbuzz
(Source: mobil.com)

During climbing flight, if you use a turbocharged airplane, the manifold pressure will remain approximately constant until the engine’s critical altitude is reached.

Superchargers are most efficient with powerful engines, but if they are attached to engines with low horsepower, they will further weigh the engine down rather than supporting it.

TUrbocharger & Supercharger - Aviatorsbuzz
Source – flightclub.com

Difference between Turbocharger and Supercharger

Turbocharger Supercharger
Also known as “Externally driven superchargers”, as they are driven by the turbine ( which is run by the exhaust) Also known as “Internally driven superchargers”, as they are driven by the gearing of the engine crankshaft
Works Only with compressed air Works  with compressed air + fuel mixture
The turbocharger is driven by a pressure controller known as the Wastegate.

When the wastegate is fully open and all the exhaust gases are routed to a turbocharger, then the aircraft’s critical altitude is reached.

It consists of a variable pitch propeller controlled by a constant speed unit, which controls the RPM of the engine and prevents the engine from being over boosted.


TUrbocharger & Supercharger - Aviatorsbuzz
Source: flightclub.com
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