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Wiki Nitrous oxide

The white car in the near lane (closest to the camera) is purging nitrous oxide

A nitrous oxide engine is an engine in which the oxygen required for burning the fuel stems from the decomposition of nitrous oxide (N2O) rather than air. The system increases the internal combustion engine's power output by allowing fuel to be burned at a higher-than-normal rate, because of the higher partial pressure of oxygen injected into the fuel mixture.

Terminology[edit]

In the context of racing, nitrous oxide is often termed nitrous or NOS. The term NOS is derived from the initials of the company name Nitrous Oxide Systems, one of the pioneering companies in the development of nitrous oxide injection systems for automotive performance use.

Mechanism[edit]

When a mole of nitrous oxide decomposes, it releases half a mole of O2 molecules (oxygen gas), and one mole of N2 molecules (nitrogen gas). This decomposition allows an oxygen concentration of 33% to be reached. Nitrogen gas is non-combustible and does not support combustion. Air—which contains only 21% oxygen, the rest being nitrogen and other equally non-combustible and non-combustion-supporting gasses—permits a 12-percent-lower maximum-oxygen level than that of nitrous oxide. This oxygen supports combustion; it alone combines with gasoline, alcohol, or diesel fuel to produce carbon dioxide and water vapor, along with heat, which causes the former two products of combustion to expand and exert pressure on pistons, driving the engine.

Nitrous oxide is stored as a liquid in tanks, but is a gas under atmospheric conditions. When injected as a liquid into an inlet manifold, the vaporization and expansion causes a reduction in air/fuel charge temperature with an associated increase in density, thereby increasing the cylinder's volumetric efficiency.

As the decomposition of N2O into oxygen and nitrogen gas is exothermic and thus contributes to a higher temperature in the combustion engine, the decomposition increases engine efficiency and performance, which is directly related to the difference in temperature between the unburned fuel mixture and the hot combustion gasses produced in the cylinders.

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