From a performance standpoint, nitrous oxide is one of the most cost-effective methods of increasing horsepower on the market today. In addition, nitrous is compact, so it doesn't stand out, and it's only used when needed. To understand how nitrous oxide works, let's review how an engine operates. A gasoline engine's operation depends on three factors: fuel, air and spark. The engine takes in air and fuel and ignites it with the spark. The ignited mixture results in hot, expanding gasses that push the piston down the cylinder, thus causing the engine to run and transfer power throughout the drivetrain. When it comes to increasing engine performance, there are a wide variety of performance parts on the market, & most are designed to do one thing: increase the amount of air and fuel the engine can gulp into the cylinder on the intake stroke. The more air and fuel the engine can pack into the cylinders on the intake stroke, the greater the hp level.
WHAT IS NITROUS OXIDE? Nitrous oxide is a cryogenic gas composed of two nitrogen molecules bonded to one oxygen molecule, hence, the chemical name of N2O. It stays in liquid form under pressure and converts to a gaseous state when released into the atmosphere. Being 36% oxygen by weight, nitrous oxide is considered to be an oxidizer, not a fuel, and is non-flammable by itself. Because nitrous oxide is a cryogenic gas, the same safety methods in handling dry ice apply to nitrous. Direct contact with the skin will cause a burn similar to contact with dry ice. Nitrous Oxide is offered for sale in two common grades, which are U.S.P., and Nytrous Plus. U.S.P. nitrous oxide is medical grade nitrous oxide. Its common use is dental and veterinary anesthesia as well as use as a propellant in food such as canned whip cream.
U.S.P. is not available to the public and would provide no advantage in the making of horsepower over the automotive grade nitrous oxide. Nytrous Plus was specifically designed for automotive consumption and differs from U.S.P. in that it contains trace amounts of sulfur dioxide (100 parts per million or "PPM") added to prevent substance abuse. The Sulfur Dioxide is an irritant to all of your breathing passageways and will cause sore throats and sore nasal passages. Nytrous Plus was specifically created for automotive applications and is available for sale to the public at many speed shops across the USA and abroad.
HOW DOES NITROUS OXIDE WORK? As stated before, nitrous oxide is an oxidizer. An oxidizer supports combustion by supplying additional oxygen. Initially, the nitrous doesn't help the process. This is because as long as the one oxygen molecule is bonded to the two nitrogen molecules, the oxygen isn't free to aid combustion at all. Only after they've been exposed to the heat of the combustion process will the chemical bond be broken (the bond breaks around 570 degrees), allowing the free oxygen molecule to then contribute to the combustion process. Additional fuel is added along with the nitrous to maintain a stoichiometric air/fuel ratio. The end result is more horsepower being created pretty much the same way a blower or turbocharger does.
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