Whenever a car purrs rather loud, or even gives an energetic note from the silencer for that,  most earthlings (or Muggles as the HP fans know it) think that the car has Nitrous Oxide in it. . .only a handful of us really know about NoS and its working.

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To put the working in a nutshell … nitrous oxide is non-reactive with most substances. However once the temperature or pressure is raised nitrous oxide can become a very volatile substance. When sufficiently heated, N2O decomposes in to nitrogen gas (N2) and oxygen gas (O2). When this decomposition occurs it is a highly exothermic reaction that occurs in the cylinders of the combustion engine. This provides an extra boost to the piston stroke because it delivers more oxygen than atmospheric air by breaking down at elevated temperatures, thus allowing the engine to burn more fuel and air.

To expand the explanation a bit…Nitrous oxide is an oxidizing agent which increases an engine’s power output by allowing more fuel to be burned than would normally be the case. This can by explained chemically When N2O decomposes in high pressure and heat, each mole of N2O gives out 1/3 mole of oxygen, this combines with the atmospheric oxygen which is 21% to give a combined oxygen amount of 51%. More air means more fuel intake and more fuel with more air intake translates more power.

(Fact: – N2O can be used to increase the power from as little as 0.5 hp to as much as 3,000 hp)

Ok we’ve talked enough of the basic working. Let’s get into details NFS (Need for Speed) style…

Ok let’s talk about the Nitrous Purge we all drool upon… Remember the scene in ‘The Fast and the Furious’ or in ‘NFS Underground’ where the car seems to spit out gases… An electrically operated valve is used to release gaseous nitrous oxide all the way up from the storage tank to the solenoid valve or valves that will release it into the engine’s intake tract. When this happens, for a moment the liquid N2O flashes to vapour as it is released…. that’s purging.

Purging is not just for show off… Purging also has a purpose… when the engine is purged the N2O in the bottle is exerted on to the engine air intake tract to provide just the right amount of N2O in the engine to keep the combustion uniform when the N2O system is activated. Otherwise when the system is suddenly activated the engine tends to bog a bit until the liquid N20 reaches the air intake. How cool is that!

Nitrous (as N2O is commonly or more popularly known) comes in two types…

1)      Dry system

2)      Wet system

In a dry nitrous system, the manifold is kept dry and the fuel is sprayed in through the injectors. And nitrous is sprayed through the mass airflow sensor (MAS). This gives the vehicle‘s ECU a signal that more fuel is required as the air is colder and denser than it should be, thus fooling the system to give in some extra fuel which is burnt more efficiently through the ‘extra air’(the 1/3 mole of extra oxygen). Thus is the working of the Dry shot System.

The wet system on the other hand gives out a spray of fuel along with air to maintain the proper air-fuel mixture thus wetting the upper intake manifold thus it gets its name. Wet systems are difficult to install as any intake disorder can cause a backfire and can damage the engine. And wet systems are more expensive too.

Alright back to earth people! Now when there is so much of a power…so much of a thrill…so much of an advantage…it’s not surprising that it packs some disadvantages too (obeying Newton’s third law)…

Equipments such as these can be very harmful too… if you fit it on to an incapable engine or if a novice mechanic fits it into a capable engine it can only spell ‘Disaster’ with a capital ‘D’…

You can end up breaking your (car’s) pistons or ruining its camshaft or even worse … detonating your engine altogether!  (due to improper air to fuel ratio) Now that’s destruction…

You also destroy the poor, innocent Mother Earth and all your fellow-drivers with nitrogen…a very harmful green house gas it has ‘270 times’ the effect of carbon dioxide on producing global warming (yikes!!!!)

And before winding up, let’s see some of the follies in the ‘NFS’ series and also some of the muddles in ‘The Fast and The Furious’…

First of all there is no switch for N2O. Your throttle is the actual switch. When taken to the max (I mean to full throttle) is what triggers the N2O intake! And not the fancy switch!( as in the movie…)

Secondly, you can’t actually use the N2O power ‘too early’…it can only be achieved at the RPM preset on the ECU (so don’t go oooh on the race in ‘the Fast and The furious’ when you see it again but if you are a live-in-fantasy type…oh yes…you can oooh)…

Thirdly, NoS is a registered brand name of Nitrous Oxide Systems a company and is NOT another term for N2O

Anyway N2O rocks…

*reference – various websites(wikipedia.com, chempedia.com, justsayn2o.comand many more for reference) and back issues of Overdrive and The Hindu – Wheels

Had written this back at college. Thought it would be nice to share it.

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