A nitrous solenoid is an electrical device that is used to administer a shot of nitrous oxide, when needed. Typically electrical, the nitrous solenoid functions in the same manner as an electric switch, and allows the gas from the nitrous bottle to flow through a supply line when the solenoid has been activated. In a typical application, the nitrous solenoid would be activated by either a manual or an automatic switch. The manual switch would require someone or something to trigger it, while the automatic switch would be triggered at a predetermined time.
Nitrous oxide is a gaseous chemical that is used to make power when injected into a gasoline-powered engine. It is also used in dentist offices to put patients asleep during certain dental procedures, and it is used in industrial applications to cool hot equipment. The nitrous solenoid allows the nitrous to enter either the fuel stream of the engine or the breathing mask of the patient. A typical solenoid is programed to not only open a valve and allow a shot of gas to flow through, but it is also designed to hold the valve open for a predetermined time period. This allows the user to determine how much nitrous he or she wishes to use and to precisely control the flow.
Often, a nitrous system is dependent upon another chemical to operate properly. In an automotive application, this is typically gasoline. Operating with its own independent solenoid, the fuel system is programed to spray fuel at the exact instant and for the entire duration that the nitrous solenoid is spraying the nitrous. In a machine, the nitrous does not make the power, it simply allows the engine to use all of the added fuel that is being injected into the fuel system. It is the fuel that creates and makes the added horsepower in the engine.
The most common problem with a nitrous solenoid is its tendency to burn out. Being an electronic component, the solenoid can occasionally burn out if it is held open for too great of a time. The flow of electricity through the nitrous solenoid causes the valve to overheat, so the valve burns out. The solenoid often sticks open when it burns out, and all of the nitrous from the supply tank is often lost. On an industrial application where the nitrous is being used to cool a component, this typically results in an overheated component shortly after the bottle runs dry.