Laughing gas is no laughing matter
Something of a coincidence today, with two stories spotted relating so-called laughing gas, which is really nitrous oxide (NO) to those with a brain cell or two to bang together.
It’s probably more widely recognised as an anaesthetic gas, used to pacify folk while someone rummages around in their mouth and plays with their teeth.
However, it seems that those who lack brain cells are misusing it: Warning over ‘laughing gas’ misuse in Dumfries and Galloway
Less well-known is the use of nitrous oxide to boost engine performance, as the gas contains oxygen which is relatively easy to liberate (the oxygen and nitrogen separate at only 300ºC), and allows engines to produce massive powers for short periods. How much extra? As much as your pocket and the engine can stand, with road engines passing four figure bhp numbers, while drag racers can produce thousands – and I’m not going to give number, because I know someone will just jump in and say they know a car that produces more.
But it’s not as simple as just squirting some NO into the engine – that will just ruin it in seconds. You need to alter the compression, boost, timing, mapping, and most importantly… fuel feed.
Putting massive amount of oxygen into the engine is not enough, and it must be matched proportionally to the correct amount of fuel to maintain combustion. Throw excess oxygen into a hot engine with no fuel to consume it… and the oxygen will just oxidise the nice hot metal components, and they will probably be ruined – in seconds.
And having noted the human misuse story from Dumfries and Galloway referred to above, I spotted this video below, where someone had a really bad idea, and threw some nitrous at a tuned car on a dyno run – the result was no great surprise for some of us:
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