How Does An Intercooler Work On A Diesel Engine?

A Turbo Diesel Intercooler is an essential component of your engine, designed to create the most efficient impact possible!

An intercooler is a unique component that is typically found on turbocharged or supercharged engines. Its job is to gather and selectively cool the air compressed by the turbo and supercharger. This lowers the temperature, allowing for higher volumes of air to be forced into the enginewhich brings us to another crucial point about why turbo diesel intercoolers work the way they do. When it comes to having an engine that can transport you from point A to point B, power is everything. The science is the key to having a highly functional Turbo Diesel Intercooler. The question of “What is air density?” is the starting point for a well-functioning intercooler. In the most precise terms, it is the mass of air per unit of volume it occupies; this concept, when paired with intercooling procedures, yields the best results. With increasing air density, the presence of oxygen becomes more obvious. When there is more oxygen present, more fuel is burned, resulting in more power!

Another item to consider when buying a Turbo Diesel Intercooler is the location of the air outlets, since this will have a significant impact on how they work. While some turbo diesel intercoolers have a design that suggests a clean and smooth flow, the most significant topic of concern is the ability to cool just as well as it permits airflow.

As this article has shown, turbo diesel intercoolers are extremely sophisticated tools that require a full understanding of how to utilize them and what they do in order to get the most out of them. In order to get the most out of your turbo diesel intercooler, there are a few key measures and instructions to follow. Everything about a turbo diesel intercooler must be designed and sized correctly, or the system as a whole will fail to perform as it should. Overall, some turbo diesel intercooler experts advise choosing a large one because there’s less of a potential for air to become trapped within the actual intercooler and begin blocking the cooling function owing to heat build-up. To be the greatest, an intercooler needs reliable, maximum airflow, and that doesn’t mean sticking one on the front of a vehicle and calling it a day. It’s vital to note that for the turbo diesel intercooler to be exceptionally efficient, air must flow through nothing but the turbo diesel intercooler itself.

On a diesel engine, how does a turbo intercooler work?

The air-to-air intercooler is the earliest type, and it operates by forcing compressed air through a network of tiny tubes and past a number of cooling fins. The heat from the hot compressed air goes to these cooling fins, which are kept cold by the quick flow of air from outside the driving vehicle.

After passing through the intercooler, the cooled compressed air is sent into the engine’s intake manifold and into the cylinders. Air-to-air intercoolers are the most preferred alternative for most turbocharged vehicles because to their simplicity, light weight, and low cost.

Intercoolers that use water to cool compressed air are known as air-to-water intercoolers. Cool water is pushed through the unit, which absorbs heat from the air as it goes through. Once the water has cooled, it is circulated through a radiator or cooling circuit before returning to the intercooler.

Air-to-Water intercoolers are often smaller than air-to-air intercoolers, making them ideal for engines with limited space. Water also transmits heat better than air, making it suited for a wider temperature range.

Air-to-water intercoolers, on the other hand, are not commonly seen on vehicle engines due to their additional complexity, expense, and weight.

What happens if an intercooler breaks down?

Intercoolers are susceptible to external damage and road debris, which can lead to premature failure of the component. Internally, damaged or clogged pipes can cause an abnormally high pressure, causing the intercooler to strain or explode. Finally, improper turbocharger installation might clog the intercooler and cause harm.

If the intercooler fails, the engine will not get enough cool, dense air, resulting in incomplete combustion and unburned fuel exhaustion.

Failure to replace the intercooler can have a direct impact on horsepower, fuel economy, and emissions.

Is it true that adding an intercooler boosts horsepower?

An intercooler is a device that cools the air that is pumped into a car’s engine. Because the act of compressing air in turbochargers or superchargers causes the air going for the engine to heat up, it’s mostly used in turbocharged or supercharged autos.

The intercooler minimizes the chance of detonation in the engine by assisting in the cooling of compressed air as it goes to the engine. It also generates a richer air-to-fuel mix in the engine’s cylinders by making compressed air denser when it enters the intake manifold. As a result, power output is boosted.

As a result, the answer to the question is a resounding yes! The use of an intercooler aids in the growth of horsepower. If your car’s engine is naturally aspirated, however, an intercooler isn’t necessary. This is because the air delivered to such an engine from the radiator and cooling system ducts is already at a low temperature. The output of an aspirated engine will be unaffected by the addition of an intercooler.

Let’s have a look at the many types of intercoolers that you could use to modify your engine.

Why do diesel engines require intercoolers?

An intercooler will not save a Turbo Diesel engine. They exist to provide for further safe power increases when used in conjunction with a turbo system. A turbo charger compresses air and adds heat to it as it passes through the engine. A Diesel engine doesn’t mind the heat because it uses super-compressed, super-heated air to ignite the Diesel fuel in the first place. Consider the last time you used a compressor to inflate a tire; the compressor gets heated as it compresses air. Intercooling is a widely misunderstood concept that leads to a plethora of fascinating sales pitches and tales.

We use an intercooler to reduce the temperature of the air entering the engine from around 90C to around 50C. The temperature changes from hot to warm, not frigid. As a result, the air gets denser, resulting in more oxygen particles available for combustion with the Diesel fuel. Because of the minor increase in oxygen particles and the somewhat lower combustion temperature, you can now slightly increase the fuel loadings to the engine to enhance power. That’s all there is to it.

Is it safe to utilize any air-to-air intercooler core, and why would you want to ‘improve’ your factory intercooler? Factory intercooler cores are designed to a budget, just like the rest of the car. Most factory-installed intercoolers have a simple ‘tube style’ core with few or no internal fins to absorb and dissipate heat. They may appear attractive from the outside, but they are inefficient in general. The fins inside the tubes of the ‘bar and plate’ type intercooler cores are the same as the fins visible from the outside. This means that the air passing through the intercooler is exposed to a large surface area of cooling fins, which transfers heat from the turbocharged air to the intercooler more efficiently. Some of the cheaper online-based intercoolers we’ve seen appear to be a true ‘bar and plate’ intercooler from the exterior, but there are no cooling fins inside the core!! Always be cautious and remember that in today’s world, you get what you pay for. Because intercoolers are all about transferring heat, make sure the intercooler you have is capable of doing so.

Is coolant pumped through the intercooler?

Intercoolers, which are found in turbocharged and supercharged engines, provide much-needed cooling that a single radiator cannot supply. We’ll go through why you might need one before we go over how they function.

For the purpose of simplicity, we’ll utilize turbocharger-equipped engines as an example. While compressing air, turbocharged engines generate a lot of heat, which aids in squeezing as much air as possible into the engine.

More power means more air (among various other benefits such as fuel efficiency and reduced waste). That may appear straightforward, but compressed air becomes extremely heated, resulting in a loss of density and, as a result, oxygen.

Oxygen is essential because it helps combustion in the fuel-air mixture. The compressed air must be cooled in order to enhance density and oxygen content, which is where the intercooler comes in.

From hot to cold

In high-performance automobile applications, a forced induction engine is typical. It offers a variety of advantages while remaining lightweight, which is a huge plus, especially for racing.

In extreme situations, though, all that compressed air can reach temperatures of above 205 C. As previously stated, heated compressed air is not conducive to combustion. An intercooler can help with this.

This is aided by the intercooler, which cools the air before it enters the engine and combustion chamber. Depending on the type of intercooler, the cooling process may differ slightly.

Types of intercoolers

An intercooler is a heat exchanger that cools air by passing it via fins, similar to a radiator. Intercoolers are divided into two categories:

This is the most popular application for daily vehicles because it is a fairly basic system that involves:

It works similarly to a radiator in that it relies on ambient airflow from the front of the automobile to go through the intercooler and cool the compressed air.

A liquid to air intercooler is significantly more complicated, but because of its increased efficiency, it is becoming increasingly used in automobiles. The procedure is as follows:

  • The air is heated and transported to the intercooler, where it is cooled before being sent to the engine.
  • The hot coolant is cycled to the radiator, which then returns the cold coolant to the intercooler for further cooling.

Because there are two circuits carrying air or coolant, more accessories and fittings, such as hoses, are normally required. As a result, it’s a touch pricey, but it’s still a very effective technology – especially in applications like drag racing automobiles.

One potential issue is heat soak, which occurs when there is a build-up of residual heat near the engine and insufficient cooling capacity to lower the temperature.

This may usually be fixed by letting the car run for a few minutes before turning it off to allow the cooling system to continue to work.

Using ice or other substances for brief periods of time can increase efficiency.

Common intercooler faults

As previously stated, there are a few things to be aware of when it comes to intercoolers. Fortunately, most of them are simple solutions, but if you need to replace something, it’s not difficult to do so. Among the most common intercooler issues are (but are not limited to):

  • Heat soak or overheating (due to bad intercooler placement and reliant on ambient airflow)

Signs and symptoms

  • Coolant leakage is noticeable (which could indicate other problems such as radiator failure)

If your intercooler needs to be repaired, Natrad workshops all around Australia can help. If repairing isn’t a possibility, Natrad offers a variety of intercooler parts as well as custom-made replacements.

Is it necessary to have oil in the intercooler?

Your intercooler’s job is to lower the temperature of the compressed air coming from the supercharger or turbocharger. The air density supplied to your engine increases when the air is cooled.

The air is compressed by the turbocharger or supercharger, which raises the temperature to dangerously high levels. The density (oxygen content) decreases as the temperature rises.

As a result, when the intercooler cools the air, it makes it denser and richer in oxygen for the engine, allowing for more fuel combustion.

Oil is not allowed in the intercooler due to operational or design reasons. Your turbocharger spins at up to 280,000 rpm and is lubricated with oil from your engine’s lubrication system.

The seals can begin to leak oil into the compressed air released from your turbocharger over a lengthy amount of time or when there is a defect, which collects at the bottom of the intercooler.

As the amount of oil in the intercooler increases, you may encounter oil in intercooler symptoms, which are not good.

When this happens, you must address the turbocharger leak as quickly as possible. However, before taking any action, be sure you know what’s causing the leak. We found that most consumers confuse coolant with oil.

There are times when it’s merely a minor leak from the core that doesn’t impede the vehicle’s functionality. All you have to worry about is oil in the intercooler generating smoke during the first crank.

What are the signs that your intercooler is clogged?

An intercooler is frequently used in turbocharged diesel engines to help remove the heat generated by air compression. If your intercooler breaks, you may notice some unusual behavior, such as overheating of the engine.

So, how can you keep the crucial intercooler from failing? Natrad has put up a comprehensive guide on how to recognize symptoms and maintain your intercooler in order to avoid costly repairs.

For your piece of mind, Natrad intercoolers come with a countrywide guarantee. Contact your local retailer right away if you require a replacement intercooler.

How to clean a turbo diesel intercooler

A good cleanout is sometimes all your intercooler needs. The heat exchanger, which functions similarly to a radiator, might become clogged or blocked at times. This may be limited to exterior blockage on the fins’ surface, depending on the type of intercooler. Clogging can occur both inside and externally in a liquid-to-air intercooler. If the blockage is modest, removing the build-up is a straightforward solution.

We’ll go through how to do a cleanout later on, as well as when to seek help if you’re not sure how to do these adjustments. But first, let’s go through the cooling system and what an intercooler does in general.

Turbo chargers are commonly (but not always) used in diesel engines to enhance fuel economy and power output. A turbocharged engine takes in a lot of air, much more than a naturally aspirated engine, allowing for better combustion. Only ambient airflow is used in a naturally aspirated engine. It creates a vacuum by using natural forces such as atmospheric pressure, cylinder movement, and the venturi effect to force air into the combustion chamber. They’re usually associated with a lack of power.

Because the air is pushed into the engine under high pressure, a turbocharged engine is referred to as a forced induction engine. More air enters the combustion chamber as a result of the turbo’s compression. This helps the fuel/air mixture to combust more quickly, transferring more energy to the car’s vital components. More power equals more energy.

Air compression is obviously the difference here, and this process generates a lot of heat. Hot air expands, lowering the air density and reducing the amount of oxygen available. This is where the intercooler comes in, as it is not optimum for combustion. The intercooler reduces the temperature of the air before it enters the engine, increasing oxygen density. It also helps avoid engine overheating by eliminating the heat generated by compression. Without this, the operating temperature of the engine would be higher, reducing fuel efficiency and speeding up wear.

Signs and symptoms

Now that you understand how a turbo diesel engine works, we’d like to assist you in determining when your intercooler requires some TLC.

  • Overheating of the engine. As previously said, overheating when driving in normal settings is a sure sign that something is amiss. The intercooler’s ability to transport heat could be harmed by clogging or blockage.
  • Engine power has decreased noticeably. The engine may not receive as much cool air for combustion as a result, and power delivery may be diminished.
  • Fuel use has increased. The combustion process could be impaired, resulting in higher fuel usage.
  • The exhaust system is emitting an unusual amount of smoke. A leak could be the culprit, resulting in a skewed air-fuel ratio. This can sometimes result in leftover fuel being burned and black smoke escaping.
  • Leakage. Hoses and lines can break, or the coolant can become polluted (only in liquid-to-air intercoolers). Symptoms such as those listed above might often indicate that this has occurred. If you have a build-up of oil in your intercooler, it’s possible that your turbo is leaking or that your EGR cooler is leaking, both of which can cause deposits to form.

To clean or not to clean

Intercooler cleanouts can be done on your own, but it’s best if you’re already familiar with turbocharged systems. If you are self-assured, the steps that follow are designed for you.

  • To clean the intercooler, it must first be removed from the vehicle. Depending on where the front bumper is mounted, this may require removing it.
  • Be careful not to disconnect any hoses or piping while removing it. Remove any leftover seals or grommets that may have been damaged by cleaning chemicals once they’ve been removed.
  • Degrease the outside and inlets of the intercooler to prepare for the removal of any muck or debris.
  • After that, you can clean the intercooler with acetone or kerosene. Pour the liquid through the entrance in a container, jiggle it gently, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Once this time has passed, pour it out. This step can be repeated several times until the cleaning agent is clear.
  • Methylated spirits, which function as a degreaser, can also be used to clean the intercooler further.
  • Before refitting, give it a good rinse and let it dry for a few hours. Because waste chemicals can be harmful, it’s important to dispose of them responsibly. (Warning: it might destroy your lawn…)

If a thorough cleaning hasn’t yielded results, there could be something more sinister at work. We recommend that you have it checked out by a professional to rule out any underlying problems. Because other engine components may be faulty, replacing the intercooler may not be enough to remedy the problem. If you need a replacement, it’s a good idea to have a professional install it properly so that it performs at its best.

Consult a Natrad technician for further information on your next best steps. They can provide you advice on replacements and repairs, as well as clean out your intercooler if you don’t want to do it yourself.

What is the maximum amount of HP that an intercooler can add?

And math isn’t a panacea: Even after all of the calculations, the final output can only approximate the real-world performance of a certain intercooler manufacturer. This is because many of the math’s input assumptions are highly variable, depending on the actual design characteristics of real-world intercooler models from various manufacturers. One crucial aspect in the calculations, for example, is intercooler internal fin density, which varies greatly between intercooler designs. The density of the internal fins influences the amount of real-world intercooler internal flow area required to meet your temperature-reduction objectives. The standard norm is to allow 6 to 7 square inches of internal intercooler flow area per 100 horsepower of engine output, however this can increase by up to 40% with extremely dense internal fins. As a result, the quantity of internal flow area required has an impact on the total size envelope of the intercooler, including the frontal-area need. Another factor to consider when determining how much frontal area you require is the heat-transfer surface area per volume of intercooler core, which is normally only available from the intercooler manufacturer.

Is there a way to enhance mpg with an intercooler?

An intercooler does not improve power or efficiency by itself. It cools compressed air, allowing more fuel to be injected while keeping exhaust temperatures low. It would be creating 3-6psi of boost at speeds and throttle levels that would earn you 25+ mpg.