Air that passes through your turbo/supercharger is compressed and heated as the temperature of the air climbs, its oxygen content (density) drops. Dropping the temperature of the air charge increases the charge density (more molecules of air per cubic foot), this in turn increases the potential for making more power. Reducing the heat decreases the tendency of the combustion process to knock (detonation). By cooling the air, an intercooler allows denser, more oxygen rich air to the engine, allowing more fuel to be burned, thus improving combustion and giving more power. It also increases reliability as it provides a more consistent temperature of intake air to the engine which allows the air fuel ratio of the engine to remain at a safe and steady level.
Some people refer to them as Bar and plate. This technology was mainly developed for industrial style cooling, any system that could incorporate a fitted motorised large fan. The reason for this is simple when you think about it, they are made of very thick metal (aluminium) which allows them to soak up a lot of heat, this is why they perform well on Dyno up until the third or fourth consecutive run, after this heat soak begins to dramatically affect their performance. They work best in installations where they have cooling constantly supplied by a large motorised fan. The issue they have when we try to use them in performance situations is recovery rates, which are always so poor they struggle to outperform even standard road intercoolers. This technology is not used in high performance motorsport because of the weight issue and the extremely poor recovery rate.
These are high performance cores, they are light in weight and experience allows you to alter the external and internal finning to deliver the desired cooling and pressure drop. Altering the external finning and tube design will alter the amount of heat rejected into any given airflow. It will also affect the external pressure drop which needs to be considered, especially if items are behind the intercooler which also use air flow to cool. Altering design and quantity of internal finning again changes heat rejection but also pressure drop, some tuners see this expressed as lag. A good standard to checking the quality of your intercooler is weight, heavy intercoolers that contain a lot of mass will soak up heat but be extremely poor at rejecting it, this translates to when you lift your foot off the pedal from a long pull the heat stays in the system so when you re-apply looking for power it will just not be able to deliver it.
There are several more types of intercooler cores on the market, some of them are designed especially for specific requirements such as drag racing or engines with turbos that are used at high altitude. If reading this has left you with questions or you are interested in a one off design to suit a particular need please do not hesitate to contact us and we will do are best to help.