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Intercoolers - Which is better / black or silver / Tube & Fin or Bar & Plate

28081 Views 39 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  razorlab
Interesting video trying to debunk the myth about which is better black or silver and general explanation of intercoolers and their construction types.

But there seems to a fair bit of debate online regarding this issue on color and construction type:

My two questions:
1. Which is better black or silver
2. Which is better tube and fin (Mountune FMIC construction) or bar and plate (Cobb FMIC construction) to name a couple of vendors and the construction types they use.
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Since you asked.

As you more than likely know the only real choice for any inter-cooler is the extruded tube and fluxed fin arrangement.
The main point worth noting is that bar and plate cores are designed for use in oil heaters and other industrial applications and tube and fin cores are designed for air heat transfer.

The low cost option primarily used is the bar and plate arrangement which is extremely cost effective but has the added penalty of weight, poor heat transfer from the external ambient air cooling source and very high pressure drop internally from its core design. The bar and plate inter-cooler matrix tempts the user into thinking they have purchased a road usable product because it performs extremely well for short periods of time typically on dynos. The mass of the unit is the key to its ability to give good air charge temperatures, however once warmed up it is very difficult for the bar and plate core to dissipate this heat. The other issue with bar and plate inter-coolers are the matrix core density which hinders across core airflow (ambient side). This causes cooling issues for any other radiators or cooling requirements packaged behind it. In other words you get great air charge temperature reduction on a dyno, but the engine temperature sky rockets as the radiator can't get enough cooling because its behind the intercooler.

The advantage of a tube and fin unit is that it has good heat transfer properties with low weight and low pressure drop across its core. They work much better than any other type of intercooler core. They also allow a higher quantity of air to flow across the outer of the core matrix (ambient) and onto other cooling items mounted behind it like the radiator. This is of particular advantage for road cars as most cooling packs include at least three/four items stacked all requiring airflow. The internal design also helps with reducing pressure drop across the core and this in turn allows a much larger core for a given pressure drop. The only real disadvantage to the tube and fin intercooler core is increased manufacturing cost.

As most of our products are warranty friendly with Ford the use of the tube and fin intercooler is paramount as it allows us to gain power increases by maximising the cooling pack efficiency with reduced air restriction.

As for the color - in real world driving the difference is negligible.

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To expand on my previous post, I assumed the question that started the thread was referring to the specific application , the Fiesta ST since this is a Fiesta ST forum and not a debate about the merits of tube and fin vs bar and plate.

For the particular application and overall performance, we have found that a tube and fin performs optimally better when you consider air flow requirements for the other heat exchangers in the cooling pack. Additionally continued heat transfer is good compared to typical bar and plate designs that can quickly become heat soaked. As I mentioned, bar and plate type do perform well on short term applications such as a dyno pull. Modern cars have far greater cooling needs than cars of 5 and 10 years ago. Engines run at higher operating temperatures and frontal air inlet areas have become smaller. This makes the requirement for air flow even greater and was just one of the factors that lead us to use the type of core we did. So to be clear, yes bar and plate do cool charge air temps very well but there is much more to consider in this particular application. Cheers-Ken
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The biggest cooling problems on this car, at least the USDM version is the crash sensor bar in front that basically takes up half of the airflow space up top and the radiator size. First thing you don't really want to touch on a street car, second thing is there is no plug and play offering yet.

Yes you hit the nail on the head.
I'd love to see the data on this. Is that available?
I'll see what I can do.
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