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Intercooler pump flow testing results

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  • Intercooler pump flow testing results

    Here are some of the results of recent electric intercooler pump testing performed at Lingenfelter Performance Engineering.

    We have performed this type of testing before on several of these pumps but, since we recently upgraded our coolant flow measurement equipment to a much higher level of flow meter that allows us to very accurately measure flow over a very wide range of flows with very little to no impact on the system restriction, we felt this was a good time to perform this testing again and to do so on an expanded range of pumps and conditions.

    For this testing we tested the pumps in two primary ways:
    • fixed known restriction using a ZL1 intercooler (from inside the supercharger assembly) and intercooler radiator with OEM diameter coolant hoses (3/4")
    • variable orifice restriction after the pump so that we could simulate any level of restriction that the pump might encounter (depending on the installed application)

    We tested several different intercooler pumps including:
    • stock OEM ZL1 intercooler pump (this is also the GMPP LSA and LS9 crate engine pump)
    • stock OEM Cadillac CTSV/Bosch PCA 1150LPH intercooler pump
    • stock OEM ZR1 intercooler pump
    • VariMax 410110 DC brushless intercooler pump
    • a common aftermarket 20GPM inline electric pump
    • a common aftermarket 55GPM inline electric pump
    • Stewart-EMP E2512A DC brushless intercooler pump
    • Stewart-EMP E2512A pump reprogrammed to raise the current/pump RPM limit (revised pump part # 1030002107 when programmed with this software)

    We tested a few other pumps as well but the above pumps are the primary ones we focused on.

    During the testing some of the variables we recorded included:
    • coolant flow
    • outlet pressure
    • inlet pressure (positive or negative)
    • differential pressure across the pump
    • pump voltage
    • pump current
    • coolant temperature

    All tests were repeated multiple times (at least three times), the data checked to make sure we had test to test repeatability and then the results were averaged to produce the data described below.

    The Bosch 1150 LPH PCA pump continues to be the baseline standard pump used in many liquid to air intercooler systems in both OEM and aftermarket applications. In the ZL1 system it flowed 3.6 gallons per minute (GPM). This is the same pump used in the 2009-2013 Cadillac CTSV, Cadillac STSV, Cadillac XLRV, 1999-2004 Ford Lightning, Fort GT500 and many other OEM applications. It is also the pump used in Magnuson, Edelbrock, Whipple and many other aftermarket supercharger kits. It is fairly compact, very reliable and has low current draw. It performs fairly well against an outlet restriction but doesn't flow as well as some of the newer, higher output pumps that are available. This same pump has existed for well over 10 years without any major design changes.

    As expected from our previous testing, the ZL1 pump flowed more than the Bosch pump (4.8 GPM vs 3.6 GPM) and the VariMax pump (PN TAFX410110) flowed the same as the ZL1 pump when tested in the stock ZL1 intercooler and intercooler radiator circuit. The Varimax pump is the pump that is in our CTSV pump upgrade kit (part # L330030709) that brings the CTSV up to the same pump flow specification as the ZL1. At 3.6 GPM, the Bosch pump flowed 25% less than the ZL1 and the VariMax pumps.

    Also as expected, the ZR1 pump performed very well. It flowed 5.7 gpm, 19% more than the stock ZL1 pump. For its size and current draw the ZR1 pump is a very impressive pump as it is no bigger than the ZL1 pump yet flows more than pumps more than twice its size and does so with 3/4" hose fittings in and out. On the other hand it is a fairly expensive pump, with an MSRP of over $1000 and "street price" of not much under that.

    The Stewart-EMP E2512A intercooler pump also performed well, matching the ZR1 pump flow when installed in the ZL1 circuit despite the fact that the inlet hose was 3/4", not the recommended 1" inlet. When we reprogrammed the Stewart-EMP pump to raise the internal pump speed and current limit, the flow was significantly increased to 7.7 gpm. That is 60% more than the ZL1 stock pump. This pump performs very well at high pressure drops but the current draw does increase significantly when the pressure across the pump is high (when the restriction is high) so you need to make sure you account for that in your wiring. The Stewart-EMP pump is a pump we have been using for several years in high horsepower supercharged and turbocharged vehicle applications including our 1250RWHP Camaro SS, our white turbo drag Camaro, and numerous 1000-1600+ HP customer builds.

    The 20GPM and 55GPM pumps we tested are pumps that are commonly being used and sold as intercooler pumps so we felt we needed to test how these performed compared to the above pumps that we use on a fairly regular basis. When tested with very little restriction these pumps flowed fairly well and used little electrical current to do so. Once the restriction started to increase the flow of these pumps dropped significantly though. Both pumps, when installed in a stock ZL1 intercooler system, flowed less than the stock ZL1 pump and not much more than the Bosch pump. At higher differential pressures (outlet restrictions) even the Bosch pump flowed more as can be seen by the graph of pump flow vs differential pressure. In 2002 when we were developing and testing a turbo Ecotec engine in the NHRA Sport Compact series we had found similar results. The billet housing electric pump that we had purchased and installed in the vehicle that was supposed to be a high flow pump actually flowed less than the Bosch production pump we were using in the low boost, 500 HP supercharged customer street cars at the time. As we found out then, many pumps being sold in the marketplace are being flow rated with no pump restriction and that many of these pumps did not flow nearly as well when tested in an as installed configuration.

    Here are the graphs of the test data described above:
    Click image for larger version

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    Click image for larger version

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    Last edited by Jason@Lingenfelter; 04-11-2013, 06:16 PM. Reason: added info

  • #2
    Pump images

    Here are some pictures of the pumps that were tested:
    Click image for larger version

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    And here are images of some of the other pumps we have also tested (but were not included in the data above):
    Click image for larger version

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    Jason Haines
    Project Director


    • #3
      Part numbers and prices

      Here are part numbers and prices for some of pumps and other related parts:

      Product description Part # Retail $
      Bosch 1150LPH PCA IC pump BOS0392-022-002 $104.95
      Bosch intercooler pump, bracket and harness kit L330010000 $139.95
      Varimax intercooler pump w bracket and connector kit TAFX410110 $215.00
      VariMax to Bosch/Minitimer intercooler pump connector adapter harness L480340000 $21.95
      Lingenfelter CTSV intercooler pump upgrade kit, LSA, '09-'13; w VariMax pump, bracket & harness L330030709 $239.95
      Stewart-EMP intercooler pump ST-E2512A $489.95
      Stewart-EMP intercooler pump, reprogrammed for higher pump output ST-1030002107 $549.95
      ZL1 Camaro intercooler pump 20945282 $255.99*
      ZR1 Corvette intercooler pump and bracket assembly 15870574 $974.58*

      *ZL1 and ZR1 pump prices are just example prices I found online. We don't inventory those GM OEM pumps so I don't know what we would charge for them.

      Note on the ZL1 pump that the mating connector is not available as a service part so if you don't have the GM engine harness or GMPP crate engine harness, a good connector solution doesn't exist.

      Also note that in many of the GMPP/Chevy PP parts catalogs and press releases the ZL1 pump is referred to as the LSA and LS9 pump. It is actually only on the LSA in the ZL1 Camaro. The LSA in the CTSV gets the Bosch pump and the LS9 in the ZR1 gets a different pump. The confusion comes from the fast that the GMPP crate engines and crate engine harnesses use the ZL1 pump.

      Click here to buy the Stewart-EMP intercooler pump, reprogrammed for higher pump output ST-1030002107 $549.95
      Last edited by Tim@Lingenfelter; 05-12-2013, 04:29 PM.


      • #4
        Current draw

        Some people asked about current draw on other forums so I figure I should cross post it here.

        This current data is from when the pumps were tested at a fixed outlet restriction in the ZL1 intercooler and intercooler radiator loop (as shown in the bar graph data). The current readings are from the power supply so +/- 0.5 amps is probably about the accuracy of the data.

        ZL1 Camaro OEM pump = 4 amps
        CTSV OEM/Bosch PCA pump = 3 amps
        Varimax pump = 6 amps
        ZR1 Corvette OEM pump = 8 amps
        20GPM billet pump = 6 amps
        55GPM billet pump = 6.5 amps
        Stewart-EMP (base controller calibration) = 9 amps
        Stewart-EMP (reprogrammed) = 19 amps

        Make sure you account for the current draw of these different pumps in your wiring size and fuse sizing.

        As pressure increases so does current draw. With the brush type pumps current draw will also go up with voltage because pump speed will also normally go up. With the DC brushless pumps current may not increase with voltage since pump speed is generally controlled by the internal motor controller.


        • #5
          Added pump data - Rule 2000

          Here is the graph again with a few of the pumps for reference and then the Rule 2000 bilge pump that a lot of drag racers use as an intercooler pump added to the data. In drag racing this pump is usually used in a large coolant reservoir that is filled with ice water. This pump is not designed for automotive coolant temperatures so it should not be used in a street vehicle application that might see higher intercooler fluid temperatures or more sustained use. This pump is a submerged bilge pump so it is mounted inside the coolant reservoir so the data for this pump is graphed versus pump outlet pressure (not differential pressure that was used for the other pumps). The inlet pressure is fairly fixed on this pump since it is mounted in the reservoir.

          Click image for larger version

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          • #6
            I am curious what type of instrumentation was used to gather this data. Specifically, what type of flow meters.

            Thank you.


            • #7
              Flow meter used

              We use a Yokogawa ADMAG AXF series magnetic flowmeter with a high accuracy (0.2%) calibration to give us a high turn-down ratio (wide measuring range).

              One of the advantages of this type of meter is that it does not create any restriction in the system unlike the turbine meters and some of the other types of flow meters.

              Originally posted by Karch View Post
              I am curious what type of instrumentation was used to gather this data. Specifically, what type of flow meters.

              Thank you.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jason@Lingenfelter View Post
                We use a Yokogawa ADMAG AXF series magnetic flowmeter with a high accuracy (0.2%) calibration to give us a high turn-down ratio (wide measuring range).

                One of the advantages of this type of meter is that it does not create any restriction in the system unlike the turbine meters and some of the other types of flow meters.
                Thank you. I know all about both Yokogawa and magnetic flow meters. Great technology for measuring water, just be sure you have a full pipes, preferably flowing up, and with 5x the pipe diameter upstream, and 2x the pipe diameter downstream, to ensure the stated accuracy. Also, try to keep the flow rates such that 3 feet/second to 30 feet/second velocity is maintained, for maximum accuracy.

                If you want even greater accuracy for your engine test stand, such as for fuel and oil flows, shoot me a PM. I work with a major NASCAR engine builder, with OEM support, for this very application.

                Sorry, but I work in liquid and gas flow measurement everyday, so I get really interested when it involves my hobby/passion as well :).


                • #9
                  Stewart-EMP pump harness

                  Here is an image of the harness that is included with the Stewart-EMP pumps (both the 9 amp calibration and the 25 amp).

                  Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    VERY cool! I've been looking for a good pump solution and I'm glad I did a little research and came across your test. It is very good to see hard data than can support a products claim.

                    Does the Stewart pump require any modification to the tune / ECU to work properly or is it a plug and play? Also, does the increased electrical draw from this pump cause any problems, anything need to be modified to support this properly?

                    I've actually got a thread started over at Camaro5 and there are several of us interested, but we all are questioning what supporting mods / tuning might be required. Feel free to comment over there:



                    • #11
                      This with our harness would be a plug and play install. The ECU wouldn't need any mods and the stock alternator should be fine. We wouldn't suggest it with a Under drive alternator pulley.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the quick response.

                        Where did you guys mount the pump when you tested it? The only person I know that runs this has it mounted in their trunk near where the battery is located. I'm wondering if that was out of necessity (increased pump size) or out of preference?


                        • #13
                          We normally would mount it close to the stock location.


                          • #14
                            Is there a way to run the Varimax pump at max speed just using power and ground? I'm using it in a vehicle without the PMW control.