Can I use a Nitrous System in a Diesel Engine?


Yesterday, an interesting article was published on Yahoo Automotive regarding the use of Nitrous Oxide Systems (NOS) in gasoline engines, and whether the increased horsepower was worth the expense.

Nitrous is one of the most divisive topics in the world of performance driving. Some think that it’s a sure-fire way to turn any engine into a hyper-powered brute. Others dismiss it or claim that it’s an excellent way to destroy your car. As with most things, however, the truth is in between the extremes. To see why, let’s take a closer look at the subject.


It all Comes down to Oxygen

Try to fire up your barbecue grill in the vacuum of outer space and what will you get? Nothing. That’s because oxygen is necessary for combustion to occur. Without this vital gas conventional engines can’t function. That’s why the Apollo astronaut’s moon buggy and the Mars rovers both ran on batteries.

The more oxygen and the more gas you can cram into a cylinder, the more power you’ll get out of an engine. But it turns out that earth’s atmosphere is only 21% oxygen. This fact is vital to our continued existence, as pure oxygen would make the planet blow up as soon as someone lit a match. In terms of automotive performance, however, it puts a limit on how much power can be created using plain old air…

Here’s a link to the complete article

MarineDiesel specializes in diesel engines for high performance vessels. Would a Nitrous system improve the performance on our engines?

The answer is, “Possibly”, but mostly “No”… And, you will certainly void your warranty if you try it.

There are a very few high performance diesel engines in the marine market, almost all designed specifically for racing, that have NOS installed. In virtually every case, these engines were intended to be used under race conditions, with very short life cycles, and for very short periods of time.

Modern diesel engines are designed with a turbocharger and electronic controls that already bring the optimum amount of oxygen into the combustion chamber. Altering this mix, with a NOS installed, does several things:

1. Increases the exhaust temperature.

2. Produces excessive smoke (The fuel mix becomes too rich)

3. Increases the heat in the cylinders, producing excessive wear on the pistons and rings.

4. Increases the heat in the turbocharger.

Now, in a diesel engine with a standard turbocharger, not VGT, the fuel mix is able to be manipulated, just as with a gasoline engine. With our VGT engines, we have already optimized that mixture, and the addition of Nitrous simply results in an over-fuel state.

Therefore, though you would receive a very little amount of additional power from the engine, you would seriously decrease its’ service life, and greatly increase the cost of ownership, especially given that you have just voided your warranty.

So, the short answer is, “Don’t Do It!”