The History of Nitrous Oxide for Use with Cars

Known in the Medical Community as Laughing Gas, Nitrous Oxide is no Laughing Matter when it comes to Speed

Nitrous oxide was originally produced and toyed with for medical usage way back in the late 1700s. While it is still used in today’s medical community and known as ‘laughing gas,’ nitrous is no laughing matter when it comes to increasing the speed of your vehicle. These days it is not uncommon to hear the word nitrous or NOS, which is an acronym for Nitrous Oxide Systems, all around the street and especially at the race track. Put simply; nitrous makes you fast.

Nitrous, which is stored in liquid from in tanks, has a very low boning point and quickly vaporizes when being released into the atmosphere. It is this trait that allows for a reduction in air and fuel charge temperature all while increasing density. So the end result is an increase in the engine cylinder’s volumetric efficiency which creates an over-all boost in power. Though the gas has been around for hundreds of years, its introduction into the automobile world is fairly recent.

art17Nitrous oxide got its start as far as engines go in World War II when it was incorporated to help with big boosts of speed and altitude lifts. However, with the development of the jet engine after World War II the development of Nitrous as a speed producing agent would be put on the shelf for a few more years.

In the 1970s nitrous oxide got its big break in the automotive world and many smaller start-up companies began to experiment with it and started putting out nitrous systems. These early systems provided for little reliability and it wasn’t until 1978 that the most well known nitrous power producing company Nitrous Oxide Systems, or NOS, was formed. With the formation of NOS came a great surge in the technology and also the popularity growth of the product.

Nitrous suddenly began to pop up more and more at the drag strips and race tracks around the country and when speed records began to fall to cars that featured systems such as NOS the magazine world began to take note. Magazines that were big among gear heads such as Hot Rod and Car Craft began to feature more stories and articles about these super fast street cars that where blistering down the local drag strips in America.

Soon amazing feats such as the first ‘door slammer’ to hit 200 miles per hour on the drag strip and the first six second quarter mile run began to take place all featuring nitrous systems. Once these feats became a normal occurrence the hot rodders and racers of America began to flock to suppliers and distributors of the speed boosting gas all in an effort to go faster. And the rest is really just history.

Today there is literally no way to take a trip to your local drag strip and not see the implementation of nitrous. The cars are easily spotted as the drivers will ‘purge’ the delivery system before they reach the starting line. This purging gives the effect of a plume of smoke, though it is nothing more than the nitrous liquid quickly flashing into vapor. Once the purge is complete the car is ready to take fresh liquid nitrous from the pluming to the solenoid valves and there it will be set to get released into the engines intake tract. After that, the car is but a blur as it screams down the track and out of sight.

There are a number of dealers and installers of nitrous systems today and it is recommended that a professional installs the system on any vehicle. Just as with any other modification that produces more speed, if the nitrous system is not properly installed, it could spell trouble for an engine.

Still now there are more advances going on in the world of nitrous and new systems and techniques are continuing to be developed.  Although its use is widely popular in its current form any changes that will ultimately amount to even more speed production will more than likely be even more accepted.

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