Superchargers have become commonplace in nearly every type of racing sport as well as every type of race car. Today, you can find superchargers everywhere and they are commonly seen on formula-1, muscle cars, and luxury performance vehicles like the Jaguar F-Pace as well. Now, you may be wondering how superchargers got to be so popular over the years. So here's a brief history to satisfy your curiosity.
In the beginning...
Even though superchargers are mainly used in cars nowadays, this was not how they started out. Two brothers from Indiana, Francis and Philander Marion Roots, patented the design for the Roots air blower which was used for blast furnaces and various other industrial applications. After that, the first-ever real supercharger for engines came in 1878.
It was Dugald Clerk, a Scottish engineer, who invented this supercharger while he was also making the first-ever dual stroke engine back in 1878 — quite the multi-tasking individual! A few years later, a German engineer by the name of Gottlieb Daimler used a Roots-style blower in his supercharged internal combustion "grandfather clock" engine which he patented and used to create the first ever "motor carriage" that could reach the thrilling speeds of 16 kmh! At the turn of the 20th century, in 1902, Louis Renault of France also received a patent for a centrifugal supercharger. And finally, Mercedes was the first car to feature a supercharger in its main lineup of cars. Of course, then this became their main lineup of cars known as the Mercedes Benz.
How Does It Work?
Well now that you know a little about where superchargers came from let's talk about how they work and what purpose they serve. Let's start with their purpose. Superchargers offer speed to a vehicle. They do this by allowing more air to come into the engine which allows for more combustion.
Now you may not be a huge fan of science, but we may have to get into some technical science lingo, so put on your thinking caps...
Combustion and powering the car
Let's get one thing out of the way — your car runs on combustion. The simple version of this is that air comes into the engine at atmospheric pressure and combines with fuel to form a charge. Now think of this charge as a packet of unused energy, much like a firecracker. Inside the engine, the spark plug ignites this charge and combustion occurs.
Now the combustion process releases a lot of energy in the form of an explosion. It's like a firecracker pop. This explosion, concentrated above a cylinder head, moves the piston down, creating a motion that triggers the wheels to move. To put it simply, your car moves due to small explosions in the engine that move pistons that in turn move wheels.