Video: What Happens When You Dump An Air Tank Into Your Intake?

Undoubtedly, you’ve seen a video or two of someone cracking open a nitrous bottle in front of a car on the dyno, basically creating a large, unregulated dry nitrous system. So what would happen if you did the same with an air tank full of compressed air? After all, nitrous oxide is simply an oxygen delivery vehicle, and there’s oxygen in air, right?

Apparently, that question gnawed at YouTube sensation Cleetus McFarland enough that he decided to go through the effort of trying it on his 2008 Ford Crown Victoria while it was on the dyno for baseline runs (for a separate project). Using the Dynojet 224xLC dyno of Proven Power in Tampa, Florida, McFarland and the Proven Power team actually put a surprising amount of effort into getting legitimate results.

The Three-Valve, 4.6-liter Modular in the Crown Vic initially had some air-fuel ratio issues during the baseline runs, but eventually produced about 220 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque in a curve you would expect from a V8 in a luxury sedan.

Then, using a “tire cheetah” – which is a tire bead seater that is designed to dump an entire pressurized five-gallon air tank with a single quarter-turn valve – aimed directly at the intake, McFarland attempted to remotely pressurize the intake tract.

After filling the tank to about 150 psi, as best we can tell, and some discussion on how to best apply the air, Cleetus and the Proven Power team give it a go. They actually made multiple pulls, altering not only when they dumped the tank into the intake tract, but their application methodology as well, with surprising results.

The dyno showed a gain of 21 horsepower and 21 pound-feet of torque for the short duration of time the tank was discharging, which by itself isn’t that surprising. After all, more air in, plus more fuel, equals more horsepower. What was surprising was how well the stock engine management handled the sudden burst of pressurized air into the intake, and showing much less fluctuation in air/fuel ratio than would be expected.

While there is no real scientific merit to what amounts to a bunch of gearheads goofing off, McFarland has an unmatched talent for doing ridiculous things in a quasi-scientific way, and actually getting decent results. So if nothing else, he gets people thinking, which isn’t ever a bad thing.

About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent over a decade in automotive publishing as Senior Editor of Race Pages magazine. In his free time, he is a firearms instructor and volunteer in the police armory.
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