How nitrous oxide works in the car

The principle of nitrous oxide and the nuances of its application on cars

Car tuning has been known for a long time. It is conventionally divided into external and technical, that is, the transformation of the vehicle may concern purely decorative moments, or there is an intervention in the engine and other systems of the car. There is a lot of discussion and debate regarding the nitrous oxide for cars. Tuning became very popular with the release of different movies on big screens about street racers who modify engines, install all sorts of equipment on the car, making a production model of a real race car. And often the car has a special button, when you press it, the car instantly accelerates and bypasses all rivals. This is where we are talking about nitrous oxide. But it is important to understand the difference between the movies and real life. Before you buy gas cylinders and connect them to your car, carefully study all the nuances of such tuning, its strengths and weaknesses, as well as the possibility of application on conventional engines and production cars.

How does nitrous oxide work in the car

Working principle

The hype around the use of nitrous oxide on cars has not subsided until now. Some are convinced that the use of the gas bottle makes it possible to obtain an instant power boost boost boosting the car off the ground and driving it forward at high speed. Others think such modifications are dangerous for the engine that can be burnt out or has to be overhauled after a single use. And here it is important to understand who is right and who is wrong. To do this, it is necessary to understand the very concept of nitrous oxide, as well as to learn how it all functions in cars.

Nitrous oxide is often called nitro. Right away, we want to dispel the myths about the explosiveness of this substance. Here, we are dealing with a colorless non-flammable gas, which has a slightly subtle, but quite pleasant smell. It has a sweet aftertaste, although it is not recommended to try it at all. Nitrous oxide is actively used in medicine. Many people know it as laughing gas. It allows it to have an intoxicating effect, relaxing a person before any surgical interventions, dental procedures, etc. It is not dangerous, which is why it is so widespread.

But when the gas reaches a high temperature of about 500 degrees Celsius, the chemical composition of N2O changes, turning the substance into a strong oxidizing agent. It is this property that allows nitrous oxide to maintain combustion, which is the key to its use in cars. Here it is filled into special cylinders, and the gas itself is pressurized inside them. Contrary to popular belief, the mixture is not explosive. That is why you don’t need to be afraid of the cylinder bursting in your trunk or under the seat. Also, the gas is not able to adversely affect the valves and pistons. Many people assure, that nitrous oxide burns these elements. This assertion is not true.

Working principle

In fact, such gas acts as a special substance, which allows for a short-term serious increase in the efficiency of the power plant. Therefore, there is an increase in engine power. Now more details about how nitrous oxide works in the car. It cannot be said that the cylinder power booster working in tandem with the engine is based on any complicated principles. The gas from the cylinder goes directly into the fuel mixture, becoming its constituent component. The substance penetrates inside the combustion chamber. Already in the engine, when the piston is at its highest point and compresses the fuel-air mixture, it is ignited by the spark plug. And after that, the following processes are observed:

  1. Because of the high pressure and exposure to elevated temperatures, nitrous oxide begins to decompose, resulting in the formation of two chemical elements. These are oxygen and nitrogen.
  2. This process allows even more oxygen to be burned in the combustion chamber. Everyone here knows that mixing fuel with oxygen creates a very good combustible compound.
  3. The amount of oxygen produced from nitrous oxide is about 1.5 to 2 times greater than the amount of oxygen taken by the engine from regular air. In this way, the engine burns more of the mixture, which contributes to the increase in power.
  4. Nitrogen is also important. It improves detonation behavior. At the same time, nitrogen prevents instantaneous combustion. In other words, nitrogen prevents explosions.
  5. Nitrogen also helps by reducing the temperature of the air that enters the cylinders. This creates a denser air structure, which is useful from the perspective of combustion efficiency of a mixture of fuel and oxygen.
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Simply put, nitrous oxide can be called a catalyst for the combustion process. The substance creates a larger amount of fuel-air mixture, which burns more effectively in the cylinders of the powertrain, thereby increasing power for a while. But here it is extremely important that the operation of the equipment, where nitrous oxide cylinders are involved, be carefully and correctly set up. If a mistake is made in the settings, a poor mixture will start to enter the cylinders. As a result, the engine will quickly overheat, leading to serious negative consequences for the integrity and condition of the engine.

Types of Systems

Before you put a nitrous oxide system in your car, you need to think about which is the best fit. If you go to a specialized atelier, where they are engaged in such technical modifications of vehicles, the client will be offered three options:

Dry system is the easiest in terms of installation and application on cars. The composition comes through the intake injector along with a mixture of fuel and air. The result is that the manifold itself remains dry. This is where the name comes from. To get this effect, two methods are used:

  1. They increase the pressure from the devices that are responsible for supplying nitrous oxide. That is, they increase pressure in the cylinder. It allows increasing a stream of a mix.
  2. Prolong time for fuel delivery through the injector. For this purpose, it is necessary to reprogram the electronic engine control unit. In this way, it is possible to increase the volume of the total mixture, which is pumped into the engine.

At the same time, experts and motorists themselves note that such dry systems are uncontrollable. In other words, if you turn it on, it will work. If you turn it off, you can’t expect any effect. There is also a variant using a wet scheme. The system is arranged in about the same way as the dry type. The difference is that the fuel supply is made by using an additional feeding element, i.e. a nozzle. Due to this solution, the probability of overheating and detonation is practically eliminated, but the efficiency is increased. Wet systems allow the use of additional fuel, for which a separate tank of a small size is installed. The motorist can fill it with alcohol, gasoline or gas, these substances have higher octane rating.

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But the most effective and modern is considered the third scheme. It is based on direct injection of nitrous oxide. The prepared fuel goes inside the cylinders, where its complete combustion takes place. The components of the fuel-air mixture are mixed prior to entering the cylinders, which makes the direct injection system fundamentally different from the alternatives. The advantages of direct injection are high precision, excellent efficiency and the ability to raise the engine power to the highest limits, as far as the engine itself allows it. But there is a downside here, which is the high cost, complexity of installation and very fine-tuning. Only highly qualified professionals with extensive experience, knowledge and technical capabilities should be entrusted with the installation of such a nitrous oxide system.

Application on conventional engines

There is an active debate regarding the installation of nitrous oxide on conventional car engines. We are talking about engines that are installed on medium-powered production civilian cars without any pretensions to sportiness and the ability to dominate on the tracks. In theory, nobody forbids putting any nitrous oxide system on such an engine. But here, it is important to understand that the principle of the equipment action is aimed at power gain. This is achieved by raising the engine rpm to solid values. For a regular motor, this means only that the tachometer arrow will be constantly in the red zone when the nitrous oxide is activated.

It is important to understand that simple engines are not tuned for such load, they are not designed to work in such modes. As a result, the power unit will jam, something will break, burn out, etc. In order to safely install a nitrous oxide system, you will have to significantly modify the engine itself. That is, it must be boosted by replacing important components of the power unit. This includes pistons, spark plugs, crankshaft and more. The task is to replace these elements of an ordinary engine with more robust parts that can withstand high pressure, temperature, and other stresses caused by the engine’s operation in extreme conditions.

Nitrous oxide applications

That’s why you can’t do without additional tuning. Yes, you can ignore this advice, insert a couple of cylinders in the car and connect the nitrous oxide supply to the engine. But in such a situation, a few activations will really make the engine go to an expensive repair. It is not worth rushing to mount it on a car. Anyway, the nitrous oxide system installation, regardless of its type, on civilian cars entails a number of additional difficulties. It is necessary to modify the engine in a mandatory manner, otherwise the standard elements will not withstand such a load for a long time.

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Possible damage

Nitrous oxide or nitrous oxide itself, as this gas is mainly called, is not harmful and dangerous. Not for nothing is it actively used in medicine. Regarding the use in the car, there are nuances, about which you have already learned. Whether the substance causes harm or not is a very controversial question. It all depends on the literacy of the application. If you approach the question responsibly, think through each step, perform the correct installation and setup, the driver will get only a noticeable increase in power without serious consequences.

The dangers of using nitrous oxide

But you can not forget about some nuances that may accompany the one who decides to put a nitrous oxide system on his car:

  1. Safety margins. Here, unprepared engines are seriously affected. They are not structurally designed to handle such loads. Conventional engines can not use nitrous oxide and at the same time operate for 600,000 to 800,000 kilometers. Their service life will run out much earlier. If the engine is constantly running in the red zone, you will have to expect a breakdown in the near future.
  2. Crank mechanism. For everything to work properly and safely, it will have to be changed. Standard gears can’t withstand these operating conditions. If you don’t change it, the consequences of failure will be much more serious.
  3. The fuel system. You also have to make some changes in it. This also applies to the exhaust system. In many cases, the catalyst serves as a victim, which will have to be disposed of.
  4. Transmission. Here, much depends on the specific situation. Some cars have to refine the gearbox, to change gears and other elements on it. Otherwise, the transmission can simply not withstand such power, or will not be able to cope with its distribution. This is especially true for automatic transmissions, which will not allow you to fully use the potential of the increased power of the engine.
  5. ECU. Another point is the need to get into the electronic brains of the vehicle. Some types of nitrous oxide require it. That is why you will need a good expert, who knows how to set the electronic control unit properly.
  6. Catalyst. It’s vital to set it up correctly. If this is done, nothing terrible and terrible will happen to the catalytic converter when operating a nitrous oxide boosted engine. But there is a probability that the catalytic converter will be melted. This is up to you to decide what to do with it.

It is definitely not an explosive gas, so you should not react to those who claim otherwise. Also, the substance will not negatively affect the internal surfaces of the engine, melting or destroying it.

Pros and cons of nitrous oxide

But nitrous oxide and conventional car engines are not the ideal combination. The feasibility of such tuning of a civilian car is highly questionable, because for proper, long and safe operation you will have to make serious changes to the engine, to change a number of components. Economically, it is not very profitable, since sometimes it is cheaper just to put a good motor on the car, taking out the old one from under the hood.

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If the installation of the system is carried out according to all the rules and to the motor prepared for such tuning, then the equipment will allow getting impressive results in the form of a gain in power and efficiency. Moreover, there is no need to spend a lot of money, because there is no need to make any changes to the engine adapted for boosting. The nitrous oxide system is safe for sports and pumped engines. In contrast, with conventional civilian engines, there is a high probability of breakdowns occurring after a short period of time.

What is a nitrous oxide NOS system? (real acceleration)

Many people have seen movies about street racing, and remember when at the end of the race the racer pushes the button and the power of his car increases repeatedly. This particular system is called nitro, or nitrous oxide, or simply NOS. Nitrous oxide injection has become popular among enthusiastic racers for several reasons: NOS gives much more power for $1 than any other engine modification. Pretty easy to install. Used only when needed and the car remains a means of everyday driving with standard fuel consumption. There are systems with outputs ranging from 25 to 500 horses. NOS is one of the few tuning systems for computer controlled injector engines. Easy to dismantle and put on another car.

Does NOS affect motor reserve? The answer to this question will be whether the injection kit is properly matched to each particular car. There is no need to fear increased wear and tear. In addition, on the side of nitrous oxide is its inconstancy of use, i.e. application only when necessary. So you press the button – release it, and the engine hardly notices anything.

How does the nitrous oxide system work? Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas with an oxygen weight of 36%, much higher than in air. This allows the mixture to burn at high temperatures. It takes a very high temperature to separate the oxygen molecules from the nitrogen molecules. The extra oxygen increases the level of combustion in the cylinder, causing the mixture to burn faster and “hotter.” This process, in turn, develops more pressure in the cylinder and as a result, more power. Once in the combustion chamber, the nitrous oxide returns to its gaseous state and cools down to -51 °C. Passing through the air duct, this wildly cold gas cools the air going into the cylinder. As the mixture cools, it becomes denser, allowing more gasoline to be added. Cold, thicker combustion mixture makes it possible to get more horsepower out of the engine, because a 10°C drop in temperature in the combustion chamber gives a 1% increase in horsepower, which means that if the temperature drops by 50°C in a 300 horsepower engine, you get as much as 30 horsepower. All these joys are overshadowed by some risks. All the horror stories about melted pistons and burnt-out engines are backed by facts. In order to use the nitro system safely, the main thing is not to overdo it. As long as you install relatively non-powerful nitrous oxide system, there is nothing to be afraid of. But as soon as you exceed the capacity of the engine, problems begin. So: 4-cylinder engine is suitable for NOS with capacity 25-50 hp; 6-cylinder – up to 75 hp. And if you have 8 cylinders, not more than 100 hp. If that’s too low, you’ll need quite a bit of tuning on the motor. If you stay within the suggested limits, then all you need to do is replace the spark plugs with less cold ones, because the temperature in the combustion chamber has increased. If you need more power, you need to modify the engine and first of all the pistons. You need to find forged sport pistons with rings lowered below the top edge of the piston – thick piston head will protect them from burning out. The next, but no less important modification – the fuel system. As the pressure in the cylinder increases, you need more fuel, and therefore a more productive fuel pump. You need one that pumps 4 liters of gasoline for every 10 horses per hour at maximum engine load. Also, a cylinder pressure gauge to help you monitor the fuel pump would not be out of place.

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Can the NOS be installed in a standard engine?

There are almost no problems here, those who want it will do it. The main trouble is that it is always difficult to find a suitable kit. For example, for 4-cylinder engines you should not take kits which can gain more than 60 horsepower, for 6-cylinder engine – not more than 100, and for 8 “piston” engine you should install kits which will gain more than 200 horsepower. These figures are designed for installation in standard engines, which will not pay for the use of reducing the resource. If the latter does not matter to the driver, he can install on his 8-cylinder powertrain and a nitrous that can add some five hundred more horsepower.

The real numbers are

At 400 meters, such systems are able to work from 1 to 3 seconds, while adding up to 23 kilometers per hour. As for the final result of the application, there will affect a lot of factors, starting from the transmission, suspension, car weight and much more.

How long does one cylinder last?

The running time of one cylinder will directly depend on the installation used and the type of kit. For example, a 125 horsepower kit whose cylinder holds 4.5 liters of nitrous oxide will allow 7 to 10 runs per quarter mile. If you have twice the horsepower, you will have half the number of rides. Well, if you apply nitrous only in third and second gears, then the consumption will drop accordingly.

How long can you keep the button pressed?

You can keep the “booster” injection system until the cylinder is empty. Although it is recommended that this system not be used longer than 15 seconds.

When is the best time to use it?

When the throttle is fully open, i.e. with the pedal to the floor. Otherwise, it is obligatory to install a special controller. Considering getting just insane torque from using it, the effect is more noticeable at the low end. Provided the throttle valve is fully open, it is safe to “plug” the button already at 2500 rpm of the crankshaft.

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