How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 191

How does a nitrous kit on a car make it go faster?
According to David Ingham, a nitrous kit is a system that injects nitrous oxide into the air intake. This technique was developed during WWII as a way to obtain short bursts of extra power from gasoline engines. Keith Spillman points out that the nitrous oxide is injected as a dense liquid so that it greatly increases the number of oxygen atoms inside the cylinder at the moment the fuel ignites. Since nitrous oxide breaks down into nitrogen and oxygen at high temperatures, it supports combustion and allows more fuel to burn during each engine cycle. The engine thus produces more power. The liquid nitrous oxide also provides an "intercooling" effect when it evaporates—it cools the gases in the cylinder prior to compression so that there is less possibility of knocking.

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