Diesel engines are the perfect recipients of mild engine modifications. They are considerably robust—generally much more so than gasoline engines. Without going into a diesel history lesson, this is what led to the diesel mod craze in the first decade of the 21st century.
Quadruple-digit power numbers were actually obtainable to any diesel owner who was willing to shell out enough dough. But, as many diesel hot rodders will tell you, there is a price. Blown head gaskets, melted pistons, burned-up turbos, and destroyed fuel injectors can be real downers when you have an expensive diesel under the hood. Higher temperatures and increased pressure within the cylinder walls are generated in conjunction with more power, and if you cannot keep the engine cool and together, than you’re going to have either catastrophic failure or at the very least premature wear.
But you can add a water/methanol mix to a diesel engine to cool the air/fuel mixture and clean up emissions while improving the efficiency of the burn and lowering EGTs. It’s a method that has been used for decades—as far back as fighter planes of the 1940s—and it can benefit your diesel truck, regardless if you have any power/cooling issues or not.
After adding a MPG-MAX water/methanol injection kit to our Florida-based 2011 6.7L Power Stroke Super Duty, we had a few questions on why water/methanol injections seem to work so well. Matt Snow of Snow Performance was the expert with the answers. Check out our insightful Q&A below.
OFF-ROAD: Doesn’t it take more energy to make more power? How can a water/methanol mix make more power? It’s still a fuel, so technically it’s an additional fuel used to make more energy, right?
Matt Snow: Energy is stored in many ways. One way is chemically as a hydrocarbon that is released when it is combusted. Another way is chemically when water changes state from a liquid to a gas creating the “steam effect,” which pushes down on the piston making torque.
More power is attained from methanol due to two factors:
1. The first factor is combustion conditioning. There is evidence in the research journals indicating that during combustion, when methanol (and to a lesser extent water) changes state, each droplet breaks-up creating many “micro-explosions.” These micro-explosions help better atomize the fuel droplets, facilitating more and smaller droplets that are more “ready” to combust. This combustion conditioning results in more of the available diesel fuel in the combustion chamber being burned (less going out the exhaust port burning or unburned) resulting in more power and less emissions (especially particulate matter and NOx).
2. Methanol is a fuel source. Also, the fact that more power is generated on the power stroke (as piston is going down after TDC) resulting in more net positive torque means more power is generated with a given amount of fuel. This also makes it “safe power.”
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