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A supercharger is a compressor used to pump fresh air into the engine cylinders. Because more air, therefore oxygen, is forced into the cylinders this allows the engine to burn more fuel accordingly. The increased amounts of fuel and air in the cylinders cause a larger explosion in the cylinder when the spark plug is fired, subsequently more power is produced
In the process of powering a supercharger as much as a third of the total crankshaft power of the engine can be used, and in many applications superchargers are less efficient than the closely related turbocharger. However, because a turbocharger is powered by exhaust gases they suffer from 'turbo lag', this is because the pressure of the exhaust gas needs time to build up before spinning the turbine. Superchargers do not suffer from this problem, and in vehicles where power is more important than fuel economy superchargers are extremely common.
HISTORY OF SUPERCHARGERS
Superchargers are as old as the internal combustion engine itself. In fact, Roots type blowers actually predate the internal combustion engine. Roots blowers were being used to ventilate coal mines and to separate wheat from chaff. There are countless examples of early automotive pioneers who used supercharging to set speed records and win races. Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, Stutz, Mercedes-Benz and Packard were a few of the name plates to sport supercharged engines in the 1920s and '30s.
Supercharging received another boost when GM's Detroit Diesel Division developed the now famous 6-71 supercharger back in 1938. The Roots type blower was intended for use on heavy-duty diesel engines, but hot rodders soon realized the potential of the blower and began bolting them on flathead Fords. The rest, as they say, is history. The GMC 6-71 blower became synonymous with all out performance, and soon dominated both street and strip. Today numerous aftermarket suppliers offer their own versions of the GM 6-71, while others have developed blower designs of their own.