Nitrous Oxide » Performance

Last Updated: January 1, 2008

The use of nitrous oxide (N2O) as a performance enhancement has been traced back to World War II, where it was employed to give Allied aircraft emergency boosts in both airspeed and altitude capabilities. When N2O is heated sufficiently, such as in the combustion chambers of an engine, N2O decomposes exothermically to N2 and O2. When this occurs in the combustion chamber, 3 moles of gas would be produced from 2 moles, providing an extra boost to the piston, as well as liberating more heat. It also has a number of other benefits. The increased oxygen provides more efficient combustion of fuel, the nitrogen buffers the increased cylinder pressure controlling the combustion, and the latent heat of vaporisation of the N2O reduces the intake temperature. Therefore N2O is occasionally injected into the fuel lines of racing cars to give more power to the engine and to give the car exceptional acceleration.



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