Heat Exchanger or Air to Air Intercooler?
Whether you have a centrifugal supercharged 3.8L Jeep, a twin screw supercharged Jeep or a TURBO Jeep, the name of the game is intake air temperature. This is the largest factor when making more power with forced induction. Cooler more dense air helps fight off detonation and allows you to run more boost on pump gas. Without a heat exchange system you would only be able to utilize 3-5lbs of boost at most and power gains would be the lowest in its high intake air temps (IAT).
Some supercharged Jeep Wrangler JKs use a heat exchanger. This is a process where you have a heat exchange unit similar to a radiator mounted in a similar position as an intercooler but instead of passing air through it you use an external pump to circulate liquid. The liquid passes through an air to water intercooler located between the supercharger and the intake manifold and out to the heat exchanger where it dissipates heat. With a heat exchanger setup, the water is constantly heated as the intercooler is much smaller and directly connected to the hot engine and under the hood at all times. Although usually reliable, these systems do use more parts including electric water pumps, reservoirs, fittings, electrical connections and multiple hoses. If the heat exchange system experiences an issue in any of these areas intake air temperature will sky rocket and catastrophic engine damage could occur.
Supercharger systems using heat exchangers typically have the highest intake air temperatures in their class and suffer from a condition called supercharger heat soak. This is where the intercooler liquid keeps getting hotter and hotter. Power will drop off dramatically as intake air temperature rises. No good.
A typical air to air intercooler is a very simple system. Air is pushed into the intercooler to dissipate heat and lower the air temperature making it more dense. The denser the air the more power can be produced. It has no moving parts and is a lot like a big radiator. It’s just that simple.
In order for the Prodigy Performance Jeep Wrangler turbo system to make more power than any other forced induction system on the market we knew we would have to exchange the most heat. Our intercooler is the largest on the market and measuring 3” wide it just barely fits behind the grille. Using a bar and plate design and handmade welded end tanks, this intercooler is purpose built to be the best. Due to its enormous size, this intercooler will support over 15lbs of boost on pump gas.