Nitrous Oxide – No Laughing Matter


NOS Bigshots SystemWhile many of us first learned of the potential power of nitrous oxide in Fast and Furious, nitrous oxide was actually discovered over 200 years ago and was first used as an engine enhancer in World War II fighter planes to improve combat performance. In modern engines, nitrous oxide can provide a powerful and inexpensive horsepower boost.

What Is It
Nitrous oxide, also called laughing gas, is a combination of two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. It is used as an anesthetic in dentists’ offices, often with comedic side-effects but can provide your engine with a serious performance jolt when coupled with an effective delivery system. In this article we will take a look at what makes this magical elixir such a potent performer.

How Does It Work
Nitrous oxide is comprised of two nitrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. As nitrous oxide is pumped into an engine’s intake system, it breaks down into nitrogen and oxygen at about 570 degrees Fahrenheit. The increase in oxygen provides an increase in power as more fuel can be used to create a stronger detonation in the cylinder. It is interesting to note that nitrous oxide is not flammable; it is only the oxygen that improves combustion. Nitrous oxide also improves power by cooling the intake temperature by up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit—the cooler and denser air, the more oxygen it will contain.

How is It Delivered
The three primary types of nitrous delivery systems are dry, wet and direct port. A dry system delivers only nitrous oxide into the intake; the required additional fuel is provided by the stock injectors through added injector pressure or longer “time-on” for the injectors. A wet system adds both nitrous oxide and additional fuel into the intake. The additional fuel in a wet system is provided through a fuel plate or nozzle, depending on the specific system and the vehicle in which it is being installed. Wet systems, typically, can produce more horsepower than dry systems. Direct port systems deliver nitrous and fuel directly into each intake port on an engine through specialized nozzles. Direct port systems are, by far, the most complicated systems to install and are widely used on dedicated racing vehicles.

Is It Right For Me
Nitrous is not for everybody; however, if you have the “need for speed” and are looking for an inexpensive way to get it, nitrous may be for you. Nitrous oxide requires some forethought in order to maximize your fun without damaging your engine. If you decide that nitrous is the right option for you, make sure you spend a decent amount time in the planning stage—talk to experts and do your research. Proper planning will keep your project free of surprises and will yield a safe and enjoyable result. Have fun and drive safely.

Author: Andy Sheehan

Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car. Find me on G+


  1. And here I thought NOS was just an energy drink.

  2. That would be nice to put a nos system in a car. Put a little button in the aftermarket steering wheel. Some girls are cray and like it when I drive fast. Put in some new headers so it does’t overheat as bad. Some struts for better handling. Paint the disk brakes red… “Because aesthetics matter too.”

  3. I have a question, is it illegal? and if not, where can I get a nitrous kit! I would love to try it out sometime!

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