How to Make Horsepower


EvlRed 10 Sec Club
Sep 12, 2010
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Port Arthur Texas
An engine operates by burning fuel, which then expands and pushes the pistons down. Want to make more horsepower? Burn more fuel so it will push the pistons down with mare force. Sounds pretty simple. But, it’s not quite so easy. While there are any number of factors that make increasing power a complex engineering problem, we will deal with three of the mast basic ones here.

First, all fuels require oxygen in order to burn.

If you want to burn more fuel, you need to also put in more oxygen. Virtually all engine performance products increase power by increasing the flow of fuel and oxygen. Camshafts, larger carburetors or valves, porting, intake manifolds, exhaust headers, superchargers, turbochargers and nitrous oxide are clear examples of how improved engine breathing (putting in more oxygen in order to burn mare fuel) will give you an increase in horsepower. Nitrous oxide injection systems are probably the most efficient way to increase the flow of oxygen and fuel. That’s the basic reason why nitrous systems produce such large horsepower increases.

Another basic power factor is vaporization of the fuel.

Gasoline, as with other racing fuels, will not burn in a liquid state. The gasoline must be turned into a vapor for it to burn. This process of turning gasoline into a vapor is simple evaporation. It is basically no different from setting a glass of water outside and waiting far it to dry up. In the engine, of course, evaporation happens very quickly. Engine heat and fuel atomization are the keys to accelerating the evaporation process enough to turn raw gasoline into a vapor at 8000 RPM. The process of atomization turns raw fuel flow into tiny droplets which then evaporate faster due to the larger amount of surface area presented for evaporation. The size of the fuel droplets is very important. Take a large droplet of gasoline, break it up into 10 smaller droplets, and you’ve increased the surface area far more efficient evaporation. The result is more fuel available to be burned and do work during combustion. A well-designed nitrous system will produce very small droplet sizes in the supplemental fuel that flows into the engine with nitrous. This is one of the reasons that NOS nitrous systems can make more horsepower than some other systems.

The third basic power factor we will look at is air/fuel mixture density.

Ever try to jog on top of a 10,000 foot pass in the Rockies? Leaves you gasping for breath doesn’t it? That’s because the air is thinner, less dense, higher up in the atmosphere than it is at sea level. It is also why you would run slower on a track in Denver than you would near sea level in New Jersey. Density is affected by atmospheric pressure (the weight of the atmosphere above you), heat and humidity. We can’t change the pressure of the atmosphere, but we can regulate the heat of our intake charge to some extent. Cool cans and intercoolers make extra power by cooling the fuel and air/fuel mixture to make it denser. And the denser the mixture is, the more the cylinder is packed with fuel and air to burn and make power. When nitrous oxide is injected it turns from a liquid to a gas instantly and becomes very cold. This cold nitrous vapor drops the temperature of the whole intake charge in the manifold by as much as 65 degrees F. The denser mixture that results helps an engine produce even more extra horsepower with a nitrous system.

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