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Are there standard conditions that you operate your cars to evaluate the intercooler performance between different IC options?
Intercooler performance is a function of engine speed, load (Detrmines boost) and vehicle speed. Ambient temperature and pressure will also determine performance. In addition cooling parameters such as fan speed and active grille shutter position determined air flow over intercooler. Intercooler performance can be evaluated in steady state conditions and transient drive cycles.
Because there are a number of contributing variables I'm curious if there are standard conditions HPA uses for comparing ICs.
I'm not sure anyone who doesn't have a dedicated test facility can make a true comparison.
The basic comparison would be to check the deltas (differences) in the pressure before and after the charge cooler, and the temperature before and after.
"Usually" there is a trade-of between minimising the pressure drop and maximising the temperature drop of the charge, with defferent designs biasing it one way or the other. Different matrix (the bit that does the heat energy transfer) designs can also affect the efficiency and strength (high boost can put a lot of stress on the welds, etc, and fatigue the 'cooler over time, especially as aluminium has poor fatigue resistance) - at a cost!
The end tank shape can also have a big affect, as it helps direct the airflow through the matrix - generally, the larger and more smoothly flowing the better. Some designs are quite horrendous with small tanks, square corners and connections tucked into corners on the same sides of the matrix (both top or bottom).
Lastly, they need to have a good flow of cooling air passing through them to cool the matrix and some designs are quite restrictive there, too.
One more design criteria is the volume of inter cooler. Total volume between compressor and throttle determines turbo lag which is important drivability metric.