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Using Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) On Your Racecar and The Possible Advantages Of It

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

the Hobbyist designing his next experimental ideas.
Designing an experiment

This is going to be an experiment article on using Liquid Nitrogen in a racecar that I thought of while sitting around the garage. Although, I have read where people have tried this in mock settings; I have not seen this actually implemented in a racecar on the track. Please correct me if I have missed it so maybe we can build on the experiment.

What if when you grabbed your scramble button your intake air temp dropped to (-140°F)?

The Benefits of Cooling Intake Air Temperature

Cooling the air entering an engine is of paramount importance as it directly impacts engine performance, efficiency, and durability. By lowering the intake air temperature, engines can significantly enhance their power output and fuel efficiency. Cooler air is denser, which means it contains more oxygen molecules per unit volume. As a result, a higher air-to-fuel ratio can be achieved, leading to a more efficient combustion process. This results in a more complete burning of the fuel, extracting more energy and converting it into useful work, ultimately increasing horsepower and torque. Additionally, cooling the air helps prevent engine knocking or detonation, a harmful phenomenon that can cause engine damage and reduced performance. Lowering the intake air temperature also helps maintain a more consistent and controlled engine temperature, reducing the risk of overheating and promoting longer engine life. Overall, the benefits of cooling the air into an engine are clear - improved performance, increased efficiency, reduced wear, and enhanced reliability, making it a crucial factor in optimizing engine operation for a wide range of applications, from everyday commuting to high-performance racing.

The Benefits Of Using An Intercooler On Your Vehicle

An intercooler plays a crucial role in maximizing engine performance, especially in forced induction systems like turbochargers and superchargers. Its importance lies in efficiently cooling the compressed air before it enters the engine's intake manifold. When air is compressed by a turbocharger or supercharger, it heats up, reducing its density and oxygen content, which can limit the engine's power potential. The intercooler solves this issue by cooling down the compressed air, increasing its density and oxygen concentration.

The benefits of an intercooler are multi-fold. Firstly, it enhances engine efficiency by improving the air-to-fuel ratio, allowing for a more complete combustion of the fuel. This leads to a significant increase in horsepower and torque output. Secondly, by lowering the intake air temperature, an intercooler helps prevent engine knocking, improving the engine's reliability and durability. The reduced heat also assists in maintaining a more consistent and controlled engine temperature, reducing the risk of overheating during high-performance operations.

Moreover, intercoolers contribute to better fuel economy since the cooler, denser air enables the engine to extract more energy from the fuel, making the most out of every drop. In addition to increased power and efficiency, intercoolers enhance the overall driving experience by delivering smoother acceleration and improved throttle response.

In summary, the importance of an intercooler lies in its ability to efficiently cool the compressed air, allowing engines to unleash their full potential. By increasing the density of the intake air and optimizing the combustion process, intercoolers elevate horsepower, torque, and fuel efficiency, while also contributing to engine longevity and performance reliability. For high-performance enthusiasts and everyday drivers alike, intercoolers are a valuable component in achieving optimal engine performance and enhancing overall driving satisfaction.

Introduction to Liquid Nitrogen

One of the coolest gases that is not flammable and can be purchased without a special license is liquid nitrogen (LN2). Liquid nitrogen is extremely cold, with a boiling point of -196 degrees Celsius (-321 degrees Fahrenheit). It is commonly used in various scientific, culinary, and industrial applications.

Some of the fascinating uses of liquid nitrogen include:

1. Cryogenic freezing: Liquid nitrogen is used to preserve biological samples, cells, and tissues for research and medical purposes.

2. Culinary applications: Chefs use liquid nitrogen to create unique and visually stunning dishes, such as instant ice creams and frozen cocktails.

3. Cooling electronic components: In the electronics industry, liquid nitrogen is used to cool down sensitive components during testing and overclocking.

4. Cryotherapy: Liquid nitrogen is used in cryotherapy treatments for muscle recovery and pain relief.

5. Demonstration and educational purposes: In educational settings, liquid nitrogen is often used to demonstrate the effects of extreme cold on various materials.

While liquid nitrogen itself is not flammable, it is essential to handle it with caution due to its extremely low temperatures. Direct contact with skin or other materials can cause severe frostbite. Therefore, proper safety measures and protective equipment should be used when handling liquid nitrogen.

It's important to note that regulations regarding the purchase and use of liquid nitrogen may vary depending on your location and intended application. Always check with local authorities or suppliers to ensure compliance with any safety guidelines or regulations before purchasing liquid nitrogen.

The cost of liquid nitrogen can vary depending on various factors such as location, supplier, quantity purchased, and the intended use. Liquid nitrogen is commonly sold by the liter, gallon, or in larger quantities such as dewars or bulk tanks. The price may also be influenced by any additional fees for delivery or handling.

As of September 2021, the average cost of liquid nitrogen ranged from approximately $0.25 to $0.50 per liter or $1.00 to $2.00 per gallon. Compared to Nitrous Oxide that is commonly used in racing applications and is sold by the pound for $3-$10. Liquid Nitrogen has a cost of $0.16 - $0.32 per pound. Bulk purchases or recurring deliveries may offer cost savings compared to smaller one-time purchases.

It's important to note that liquid nitrogen is typically available through specialty gas suppliers, industrial gas companies, or scientific supply companies.

Using Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) On Your Racecar to Enhanced Racecar Performance

We now grasp the benefits of air cooling and the potential of Liquid Nitrogen, prompting an exciting question: How can we combine these elements to optimize racecar performance? Picture a turbocharged vehicle with a complex network of piping, coursing from the turbo's discharge port, through the intercooler, throttle body, and ending at the intake.

The efficiency of a performance car's intercooler relies on various factors, including its type, design, vehicle and engine setup, boost intensity for forced induction, and environmental conditions. In a controlled settings like a performance shop with advanced dyno machines, efficiency is quantified by comparing temperature differences across the intercooler. The gap between pre-intercooler intake air temperature and post-intercooler intake air temperature is carefully analyzed alongside the intake system's boost pressure. This helps determine how effectively the intercooler cools compressed air.

Well-designed intercoolers usually achieve efficiency levels of 70% to 90%, but these values can vary significantly due to the mentioned factors. Exceptional high-performance intercoolers or custom setups might even surpass these boundaries, showcasing unprecedented efficiency levels.

In conclusion, the seamless integration of Liquid Nitrogen and air cooling principles has the potential to revolutionize racecar performance, bringing forth improved efficiency and optimized power output.

The Visionary Integration of Liquid Nitrogen into the Racecars' Performance

Enhancement begins with a cleverly designed setup, utilizing an array of tanks meticulously placed for gravitational advantage. Connected through a network of hoses and/or piping reminiscent of nitrous oxide arrangements, these tanks lead to the engine bay. By elevating the tanks above the engine, we ensure a gravity feed, expelling liquid nitrogen instead of gas, while producing nitrogen gas as a natural byproduct.

It's vital to understand that nitrogen gas (N2) doesn't inherently possess cold properties under standard atmospheric conditions. Its temperature varies depending on specific conditions. At standard temperature and pressure (STP) - 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and 1 atmosphere of pressure (101.325 kPa or 14.7 psi) - nitrogen gas exists at approximately 0 degrees Celsius.

As the ingeniously crafted system enters the engine bay, precisely wrapped piping encases the turbo discharge pipe, skillfully guiding the liquid nitrogen's discharge through small openings onto the pipe. The piping then leads to the intercooler, strategically positioned to saturate the liquid nitrogen on the intercooler without obstructing the uninterrupted airflow through the intercooler.

An intriguing consideration arises: Do we still need external air to be drawn through the intercooler? Traditionally, the primary goal of airflow is to cool the incoming air. However, the innovative use of liquid nitrogen prompts us to question this elemental reliance on air's cooling potential.

Upon departing the intercooler, the piping continues its journey, embracing the intake pipe, delivering further cooling benefits. The fluid contours of the piping then encircle the throttle body and engine intake manifold, optimizing efficiency by surrounding the intake ports leading to each cylinder.

This ingenious blend of advanced engineering and creative design showcases the thrilling possibilities of harnessing Liquid Nitrogen to enhance racecar performance to its fullest potential.


Addressing Pressure Challenges: Optimal Tank Configuration

To tackle potential pressure challenges in the implementation of liquid nitrogen for racecar cooling, a meticulous approach to tank configuration is crucial. Instead of relying on a single 10lb tank similar to the traditional nitrous setup, a more sophisticated solution involves employing multiple smaller tanks, such as 10 x 1lb tanks. The use of smaller tanks offers several advantages, including enhanced safety and the ability to strategically distribute them throughout the system.

The durability of these tanks is of paramount importance, particularly in the event of a crash, where any compromise could lead to hazardous consequences. Consideration should be given to housing these tanks within a safety tank, similar to the design of a fuel cell, to minimize the risks associated with liquid nitrogen exposure.

Conducting meticulous experiments allows for precise observation of flow duration from each tank to the point of exit. By aligning these observations with the dimensions of the turbo piping and the duration of liquid nitrogen discharge, we can strategically place exits for each tank. The goal is to ensure optimal saturation of the system and maintain a consistent flow of liquid nitrogen.

For instance, envisioning a turbo discharge pipe measuring 20 inches from the turbo's discharge port to the intercoolers' inlet port, a 10-second saturation period per 10 inches is sought during the liquid nitrogen experiment. By placing two tanks on the discharge tube, the desired saturation period is achieved.

Drawing from this knowledge, the design may entail placing two tanks at the discharge port, three to four on the intercooler, two to three on the intake pipe, and an additional two to three around the intake manifold itself. This calculated approach ensures a seamless flow of liquid nitrogen, mitigating pressure-related challenges and optimizing the system's overall efficiency.

In conclusion, resolving pressure issues through the meticulous configuration of multiple smaller tanks presents an elegant solution for utilizing liquid nitrogen in a racecars' cooling systems. By implementing strategic placement and conducting precise experiments, we can elevate racecar performance, tapping into the immense potential of liquid nitrogen as a game-changing coolant.

Questions that need to be answered:

  1. Is using liquid nitrogen a possible game changer for cooling intake air temperatures?

  2. Is the duration and saturation efficient enough for proper saturation on the piping?

  3. Could we add a secondary piping of water to quicken the cooling process by creating ice on the piping?

  4. Do we still need air flow through the intercooler itself?

  5. What if we took the intercooler laid it flat so the liquid could flow through the fins easier?

  6. What type of piping delivers the liquid nitrogen the most effectively allowing for the most saturation?

  7. Can we add any type of air pump to the tank to help with lose of pressure on the tank during the release of the liquid?

Thank you for a moment of your time. Stay safe and save the classics. The Hobbyist


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