The history of Nitrous Oxide
The practise of injecting nitrous oxide into the combustion chamber of internal combustion has been with us for many years and was first introduced by the Germans in the Second World War. Many combat and reconnaissance aircraft were fitted with the then called GM-1 system. This system introduced nitrous oxide into an aircraft engine by way of compensating for the thinner air density that can be experienced when flying at high altitudes. The Royal Air Force of Britain also used nitrous oxide to enhance the performance of their aircraft engines during the war years. However, over a period of time there has been some negative feedback from some quarters regarding the use of nitrous oxide to enhance the output of an engine, questioning the durability of an engine and any repercussions after its use. However, if it resulted in any damaging effect on an engine it would not have been able to have been used so successfully for so many years.
How motor racing has benefited from the use of Nitrous Oxide
Over the years nitrous oxide has been used frequently in many classes of motor racing to give a driver an edge over their opposition. This procedure has been in place since the 1950s when a then famous stock car driver named Smokey Yunick rediscovered the advantages that can be experienced by using a nitrous oxide injection system on a stock car. Unfortunately this method saw Smokey banned by NASCAR and to date there have been many incidents and scandals involving nitrous oxide that NASCAR has had to deal with
Today nitrous oxide is just another recognised way of getting more power from your engine along with larger carburettors, racing camshafts and modified exhaust systems. Although acceptable in most circles, nitrous oxide can be misused; if this is the case it could have an adverse effect on the long term performance of an engine and consequently shorten its life span which, in turn, becomes extremely costly. Also misuse can result in accidents and people who use nitrous oxide in the world of motor racing have been badly burnt due to various forms of misuse. Cutting corners to save time has often brought about these results.
When injected into an internal combustion engine at the same time as fuel, nitrous oxide will increase the compression ratio of the engine which will give the effect of a supercharger. This is because it radically increases the engines pressure within the cylinders causing the pistons to be forced down at a far greater rate.
Misuse of Nitrous Oxide
Severe engine damage can be experienced if nitrous oxide is not used properly; use by an inexperienced person could result in the engine detonating. Damage can also be caused by the use of low octane fuel with the compression ratio becoming too high as well as the incorrect air fuel ratio being used. It is also advisable to use retarded spark timing when nitrous oxide is being applied. Further results of misuse could lead to head gasket problems and piston ring failure which can become extremely costly.
Furthermore, the risk of detonation is higher if the incorrect ratio of extra fuel and nitrous oxide is introduced to an engine. This incorrect mixture will cause combustion temperatures to rise dramatically thus increasing the risk of detonation. Depending on the degree of detonation it will not only be the engine of the car that incurs damage but the body and interior. This could put a race ready car out of action for some time.
Nitrous oxide has a slight smell is uncoloured and not inflammable; if a little amount is inhaled it can result in fits of laughter. It is for this reason that in some quarters it is known as laughing gas. But if too much pure nitrous oxide is inhaled it could be fatal as suffocation could be a result. This happens because the oxygen contained in nitrous oxide is not at the disposal of the human body due to the prevailing atmospheric temperature and pressure.
Getting the best from Nitrous Oxide
So the message is clear, there is only one way to make use of nitrous oxide kits and that is the right way. Used in the correct manner your engine will serve you well; cutting corners and improper installation can be extremely dangerous not only to your health but your bank balance could be affected too.
Stock engines can benefit from the use of nitrous oxide and by doing so can gain 25-35% more power. However, it must be remembered that if not used in small doses there could be an alteration to the engine and its durability. It will be advisable to upgrade pistons, bearing and connecting rods if you intend to increase the horse power of your 82 or 84 by 35%.
The power increase that nitrous oxide can offer is great value for money but only if it is not abused and operated correctly. As well as the safety aspects of its operation, when to use it to its full advantage is a decision that will come with experience. The boost that it will give is short lived as an average bottle, known as a 20 pounder, will give an average V8 a boost that will last about twenty seconds. Those twenty seconds could be the difference between winning a race and coming way down the field.
Nitrous oxide has been, and will continue to be, responsible for unbelievable increases in power on the road or the track. By using it with caution and showing it the respect that it deserves it could become the reason why your trophy cabinet will be filling up extremely fast.