, discovered by Joseph Priestley
in 1772 was initially used to relieve pain during dentist vists, found its way into the large piston
of the German
fighter aircraft to provide an instant power boost to airplane
engines, often with catastrophic
The fundamental makeup of Nitrous Oxide being two parts nitrogen and one part oxygen lends itself to creating what can be massive amounts of power in combustion engines from lawnmowers to top fuel drag engines.
Oxygen is released from the nitrogen mix when it is heated turning it from a liquid into a gas. Mixing equal amounts of fuel into an already running engine causes a massive amount of additonal horsepower to be output from the engine. Several manufactures exist today that provide both kit and developed systems that can literally bolt onto your engine and at the flick of a switch add from 50 to 250 horsepower to an engine.
Performance applications range from the lower end horsepower systems known as plates that bolt under the carburetor with single or dual jets to high end systems that use nozzles which vaporize the mixture down each port in the engines cylinder head. Almost all systems utilize solonoids of some type to control the flow of nitrous from the storage tank, usually a 10 pound container which is placed in the trunk of the automobile and fed with braided stainless steel tubing.
Top racers will often elect to use a nitrous system to add horsepower in stages. These are called multi-stage systems. This is to help eliminate un-wanted wheelspin by adding too much power to the wheels from the start. These systems are controlled typically by a computerized controller today but some systems were controlled via relays that were engaged in a specific gear and RPM.
Additional performance can be realized by building your engine using specialized coatings on the piston domes and building your engine with an initially low compression ratio so the extra increase in horsepower provides the power without damaging the engine components.