Nitrous Oxide Systems
Nitrous oxide is a chemical compound which is commonly used in race cars, and high powered vehicles,in order to produce more power. The increase in power can be in the range of 1/2 hp to 3000 hp, depending on the type of nitrous system on the vehicle and the engine type. Nitrous oxides chemical designator is N2O, because it is formed out of 2 nitrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom.
Nitrous oxide is stored in liquid form, in a tank, which is one of the most common indicators that a vehicle is using it. It has to be kept in a tank because of its low boiling point which can cause it to vaporize easily in the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide is a colorless/nonflammable material that smells somewhat sweet. The storage capacity of nitrous oxide is limited, which is why drivers use it sparingly in bursts by pressing a button or flipping a switch.
Nitrous oxide works by being injected or pumped into the engines intake system. After making its way into the intake system, the nitrous oxide breaks down into nitrogen, and oxygen. The extra oxygen which is separated from the nitrogen is burnt off in the combustion process, which increases power. Having an increased proportion of fuel is also necessary, so that the engine does not run lean or even explode. The nitrogen atoms released also have a useful function in the system to. The nitrogen absorbs heat which has a cooling effect on the combustion temperature. This cooling effect by the nitrogen can decrease the intakes temperature by 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Every 10 degrees in reduction of temperature will provide roughly an extra 1% in horsepower gain. With both the oxygen and nitrogen increasing the power of the engine, nitrous oxide becomes a valuable power gain for those moments that the vehicle needs an extra amount of power.
Nitrous oxide systems are installed as either a dry kit or wet kit. The dry kit works by spraying the nitrous into the intake manifold, where it is mixed with fuel and air, before entering the injectors. On this type of system, fuel flow is increased by creating more pressure in the fuel injection system, or by programming the vehicles computer to allow the fuel injectors to stay open longer, in their cycle. This method is typically done by spraying the nitrous in front of the mass airflow sensor, which sends a signal to the vehicle's computer telling it that, dense cold air is in the system, which allows the injectors to increase fuel flow. If extra fuel is not added on a dry system, the engine can explode, which is why the user should be very conservative on the amount of nitrous oxide used.
The other system is wet injection which is when the shots of nitrous oxide have fuel in them. This mixture is injected directly into the throttle body, using a fogger. This method of injecting the nitrous oxide provides a better balance of fuel than most dry kits can offer. The better control of fuel flow makes this the most powerful type of nitrous system. Wet nitrous injection kits may cause puddles of excess fuel, in the intake manifold which can cause a severe backfire condition. Some high performance wet kits use direct-port injection ,for the nitrous shots. This is the most efficient way of injection but requires the whole intake manifold be removed and custom fitted with a new one.
Vehicles using nitrous oxide can also be easily identified, if they purge the delivery system. The purpose for a nitrous purge is to make sure the correct amount of nitrous oxide is delivered the moment the system is activated. The purge system works using an electrically operated valve, which releases air and gaseous nitrous oxide which is trapped inside the delivery system. This will bring liquid nitrous oxide from the storage tank and through the plumbing where it goes to the solenoid valve that will release it into the engines intake tract. As the purge system is activated, plumes of nitrous oxide become visible for a moment as the liquid flashes to vapor as it’s released.
Using a nitrous system on a vehicle has many benefits, but may also cause concern. The biggest concern with installing a nitrogen oxide system in a vehicle is that the engine can blow up. Using nitrous on a vehicle puts huge amounts of stress on the engine, which is why high performance engines are most capable of handling the increased pressure without huge potential for failure. The parts involved with the combustion chamber are the most susceptible to stress when using nitrous. The most common failures in the engine are cracked or destroyed pistons, connecting rods, and crankshafts.
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