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N2O and the law... From the horses mouth

Yesterday i read another N2O post , the whole should i/shouldnt i debate. I then thought id e-mail the police to findout about the legal issues rather than use hearsay... Heres the responce...

From Me..

I would like to know any legal issues surrounding the use of N2O in my
> road car. Should the car would be labled as carrying non flamable compressed
> gas?
> If there are any requirements i would need to meet (other than extending
> my insurance cover to this) then i would most appreciate it if you could
> inform me.
> Thank you for your time and help
> Andrew

The reply...

Andrew, N2O is actually a flammable gas, but if used to propel a vehicle
then no signing is necessary. An EU agreement under type approval that the
UK has signed up to does not allow for two fuels to be used at the same
time. You can have two fuels on the vehicle but only use 1 e.g. petrol/N2O
you would need to switch from one to the other and not use the N2O to boost
the petrol. You would definitely need to let your Insurance company know.
Dont be surprised if they then decline to cover you!

Mick Beale
Sgt 2178 Road Policing Training
Direct Dial:01245-452774

Can i ask one question, i may sound stupid but i though N2O was NOT FLAMABLE? OK so we have oxygen, this is not flamable but is a component needed to complete combustion of a flamable material and Nitrogen which is completely inert but will cool the charge. Therefore can N2O be called flamable when it cant be burnt, only used to accerlerate combuastion which is already taking place?


its also not a fuel. The idea is that it is 33% oxygen, as opposed to air which is around 20%. its also cold when it expands out of the tank. it provides the oxygen part of the fire triangle (oxygen, fuel and heat). Its nice to see the police trying to help out, but i dont think this guy has quite got his facts straight. There is no way you could run a car on just nitrous.

I dont think he knows what his talking about..... Its only flammable when heated.... Its not a fuel!! you use the oxygen in the gas which seperates once heated. So do they class sucking air as fuel so all cars are illegual! LOL I would like to see someone running their car just on n2o see how far they get!
  Clio v6

I like the sound on NoS but I hear so many horror stories of people upping the boost ? and blowing their car up.

Is this only when it is manaully boosted ? or does an NoS system have an auto switch off limit gadget thingy wotsit?

Why dont some car maufacturers install NoS as standard?

regulations, law, reliability, warrenty, and now the compensation culture.

If ur in ur car and it carashes and is on fire, the n2o will make the fire worse, you may get more burnt / not survive. Your belated parents sue saying this kind of thing should be outlawed becasuse our little jonny was unaware of the massive risk he was taking, car firm gets sued, looks bad, they loose sales, the statistics of will the extra sales NOS would bring outweigh the amount of compensation we have to pay when the occasional customer dies starts to swing out of favour and there you suddenly have no car companies producing NOS as standard.
  Nissan R35 GT-R

Going back to the thread subject, it seems that it is ok to run Nitrous Oxide in a road going car so long as your insurer knows. N2O is clearly not flammable on its own and therefore NOT a fuel.

N20 is merely another source of forced induction and so if N20 was not road-legal, neither would turbochargers or superchargers be.

Well done Mav - this thread has enlightened me and a few others on the legalities of N20.

dash: I think manufacturers dont use N20 on standard cars because its a consumable whereas turbos and superchargers run for free (with the exception of a fuel bill, but N20 will only be the same).

I hear that there is a factory option on the new MG X-POWER. 950bhp from N20. Nice.


Well he is saying that its not legal to run two fuesl at the same time, allthough the nos aint a fuel it is bosting the fuel, so that would be the illegal bit? he is not saying that you COULD run a car on nos, but if you had it fitted you would not be able to run them both together. You would have to terminate your petrol supply therfore making th nos useless in the first place.

Or have i misunderstood it?
  2012 WRX Waggon

Nitrous Oxide isnt a fuel, and in aint flammable.

All that happens is at an elevated temperature, it decomposes (not burns) releasing oxygen and nitrogen - the nitrogen shoots off out your exhaust to join the 79% in the atmosphere.

Now the oxygen left "behind" is available for combustion, this is in addition to the oxygen your car sucked in 21% in air. This means your car can chuck more petrol in per cylinder full and develope more power, sometimes an extra injector is needed just to facilitate this

if Nitrous was a fuel, why u need more pertol when runnin it?



i dunno why you dont just inject o2 directly ;)

i think kaboom springs to mind (although it would be interesting)

Just out of curiosity and feel free to shoot me down (which I expect) but oxygen, by nature is highly flammable in base form, it being the requirement for any fire at all.

Am i wrong in thinking a flammable liquid/material is something that burns? If so, N2O is one of the most flammable things around?!?!!

ne ways, when I last checked N2O is not listed as a fuel, but as an accelerant. There is a difference.

The reason it aint a fuel is that it doesnt actually have a substance within it that burns, it only aids in the burning process. Thus its an extremely flammable combinatino used to accelerate the explosive properties of a compound......................................i think?

sorry if this is garbage but i think ive thought it out properly?

right, got a bee in my bonnet so checked it out, and, im wrong and right, just about different parts. below is the link and explanation where i got my answer:

<A name=11>Q: Is nitrous oxide flammable?
A: No. Nitrous oxide by itself is non-flammable. However, the oxygen present in nitrous oxide causes combustion of fuel to take place more rapidly.

this might be helpful for anyone intrested:

adn this:
  BMW 320d Sport

Just to confirm everything, nitrous oxide is definitely not flammable, nor is it a fuel. It is an oxidiser - when depressurised and heated, it decomposes and provides oxygen which will allow fuel to be burnt. Petrol is a fuel but without oxygen it is about as useful in your engine as Panda Pops. If you were to display warning stickers on your car you would need two - one compressed gas and one oxidiser. There is a reason why you cant just inject 02 into an engine but for the life of me I cant think what it is...maybe to do with the compressibility of it, something like you would need huge tanks of O2 to supply the correct amounts? Not sure about that though.

Quote: Originally posted by Mav on 22 January 2003
An EU agreement under type approval that the
UK has signed up to does not allow for two fuels to be used at the same
So it must be legal then from the rest of the replys. You still only have the 1 fuel and there are surely no laws about accelerants else why would turbos be illegal.

Am i wrong in thinking that when you break it down like that then a turbo does a similar job to nos??? Or am i just think as....

a m8 enquired into this also
basically its not illegal to have the n20 in the car but its illegal to use it. obviously proving that u actually used it would be practically impossible :)

mav who did u email? can i have the email address as i have some questions about the legality of bad boy bonnets

Hehe, here we go again :confused:

Nice post Nick, said it all really, but it is NOT, I repeat NOT ILLEGAL to use it on public roads, the only illegality is if you have not informed your insurance company of its use on the road (saying that if you can find a co to insure you using it on the road, tell me, cos I cant :-( ), its not a fuel, therefore you are not using 2 fuels at the same time, sadly it just goes to show that even the people who are put in places of authority do not have all the facts to hand - which is a real shame.

On the subject of injecting O2, well, I really dont know, but I do know that it wouldnt be in liquid form if it was used, cos it would have to be held below -297F to be a liquid :confused:

I think the confusion is coming from Nitrous Oxide being confused with Nitro. Im not entirely sure what the chemical formula of nitro is, but it is used in drag racing and speedway fuels such as nitromethane and nitropropane. It is a fuel, these mixtures have a very high RON and MON and can contain oxygen, which means v high compression and very high fuel / air ratios (sometimes up to two parts fuel to one part air, as opposed to around thirteen parts air to one part fuel on a road car). Can you imagine the MPG?
  BMW 320d Sport

Yeah youre right on that Steve, nitromethane definitely is a fuel with a very high octane, burns very slow.

And as Roamer says, it is perfectly legal to use nitrous oxide on the road. As long as your insurance company know because otherwise your insurance would be invalid and therefore you would be breaking the law by driving without insurance. The use of nitrous oxide itself would not be an issue, it could be anything that you havent told your insurance about that would cause them to void your policy eg. aftermarket alloy wheels, or in the case of some insurance companies, even adding an aftermarket Magic Tree..

If any of you guys want to see what your local police say then just go to the main goverment police site (cant remember what it is but google always remembers) and then select your county and then on the contact button. They have a special section to ask traffic questions, well essex police do anyway.

Be good to hear if the police are as consistent when asked the same question as renault are about specs, weights, warrenty........:D


Well guys, here is a bit of my research into the legal position of N2O use on road vehicles in the UK.

Talked to a traffic officer at West Midlands police, and he informed me that a) it was an explosive, b) customs and excise would be very interested to here about it, as you can only use licenced petrol/diesel/av-gas in the UK and that other fuel types were illegal on that basis, c) that it chemically changed the petrol so it could not be then stated to be RON95/97 or whatever. Also he said that to even carry the gas in a vehicle I would have to show 2 stickers denoting the type and amount of gas carried. He then told me to go and speak to the local D.O.T. testing facility.

I talked to a guy down at the D.O.T. testing facility who said that he didnt know a thing about it, and that I should phone the department of transpart head office and try and talk to someone in VSE (Vehicle security and engineering.

Talked to one person in VSE and they said that they only deal with security systems such as brakes, seat belts etc, but that I should phone upstairs and talk to one of the guys who deal with emissions.

Rang another number and talked to a guy in the vehicle emissions section, who was very helpful, but could only talk about his area of expertise, so from his standpoint, the only problem would be if, whilst using nitrous oxide, your vehicles emission went above that set for the type of vehicle at the time of manufacture, and that he couldnt comment on any other aspects, but he did seem interested when I mentioned the new MG car which would have a factory fitted option of N2O :)

So, the only guys I havent spoken to are Customs and Excise, I will try and find a number of someone knowledgable in there and give them a call at a later date.

Its great what you find out from a bit of ringing around eh? :-( but aint it sad that most people are not informed enough about it?

hehehe yup, what would people think if they were given N2O (During a medical procedure) and then told they were breathing in an explosive???? theyd probably be very afraid to have a cigarette again LoL

So these are the people who we rely on to help us in time of need!!! I think some basic chemisty should be taught to all people who work with or want to preach law about fuels and vehicles.


Well at least they are all consistently wrong about the whole explosive/fuel debate concerning the gas itself




Quote: Originally posted by Roamer on 23 January 2003

hehehe yup, what would people think if they were given N2O (During a medical procedure) and then told they were breathing in an explosive???? theyd probably be very afraid to have a cigarette again LoL

what about oxygen?

dont go smoking near that

Why would smoking near oxygen be bad?

Apart from the fact that your ciggies would burn up faster and the fact you would be able to breath a little easier theres nothing wrong at all with that.

Well if your breaking the law you might as well crank up the NOS whenever a fed sees you! Its not like the canisters have to be visible anyway, the parcel shelf would hide anything so whod know?

I was going to revise for GCSE science but soldier soldier came on TV and so i didnt have time before going to bed. Spose an A wasnt bad lol