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Ford Ranger with supercharger
Photo courtesy Superchargers Online
Ford Ranger with a supercharger under the hood.
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­Since the invention of the internal com­bustion engine, automotive engineers, speed junkies and racecar designers have been searching for ways to boost its power. ­One way to add power is to build a bigger engine. But bigger engines, which weigh more and cost more to build and maintain, are not always better.

Thank You
Thanks to Jeff Beckman for his assistance with this article.

Another way to add power is to make a normal-sized engine more efficient. You can accomplish this by forcing more air into the combustion chamber. More air means more fuel can be added, and more fuel means a bigger explosion and greater horsepower. Adding a supercharger is a great way to achieve forced air induction. In this article, we'll explain what superchargers are, how they work and how they compare to turbochargers.

A supercharger is any device that pressurizes the air intake to above atmospheric pressure. Both superchargers and turbochargers do this. In fact, the term "turbocharger" is a shortened version of "turbo-supercharger," its official name.

The difference between the two d­evices is their source of energy. Turbochargers are powered by the mass-flow of exhaust gases driving a turbine. Superchargers are powered mechanically by belt- or chain-drive from the engine's crankshaft.

In the next section, we'll look at how a supercharger does its job.