Despite the early warnings from Ford engineers, the pairing of a Coyote 5.0-liter engine and forced induction has become one of the most popular duos in the world of Ford performance. However, when boost is added, it isn’t long before more boost is wanted, which pushes the limits of even 93-octane pump gas. That’s why blower cars often burn E85 or inject water-methanol to tame knock.
What would happen, however, if you were to burn E85 and install a Snow Performance water-meth system on a Vortech-blown 2012 Mustang GT? Good things (spoiler alert), but before we get to the results, it’s worth delving into the benefits of this combination for a modern, supercharged 5.0-liter engine.
To test the benefits of water-meth injection on a boosted Coyote, Rob Williams Racing installed a Snow Performance system on this 2012 Mustang GT, which is powered by a Ford Performance Aluminator fitted with a Vortech Supercharger. (Photo Credit: Rob Williams Racing)
Water-Methanol Injection provides detonation control similar to using a very large intercooler and race gas at the same time. — Matt Snow, Snow Performance
“Water-Methanol Injection provides detonation control similar to using a very large intercooler and race gas at the same time,” Matt Snow, owner of Snow Performance, explained. “Air-charge temps are reduced up to 150 degrees, and with a 50-percent methanol mix, the effective octane surpasses 116-octane race gas. With this level of spark-knock control, more boost and timing can be added for additional torque and horsepower.”
In the case of the modern Ford 5.0-liter engine, which was born with a robust, 11:1 compression ratio, adding a lot of boost can quickly find the limits of 93-octane gasoline.
“For a Coyote running high boost, pump gas is very limiting,” Matt said. “With the timing and boost increases from utilizing water-methanol, it allows up to a 20-percent increase in horsepower.”
The Snow Stage 2 system for Coyotes includes this VC-50 Controller, which acts as both a boost gauge and a water-methanol controller all in one. It displays all the necessary information about your water-meth setup, including boost, percentage of injection, low level, secondary nozzle activation and more.
Amplify The Octane
Snow System Features & Benefits
• Nickel-plated metal fittings
• Ultra-high-output, 300-psi pump for more pressure
• 52mm boost gauge and adjustable progressive water-methanol controller all in one
• Seven-color OLED screen displays boost, injection percentage, injection errors, prime button, second-stage activation, and low level
• Prime feature ensures water-methanol in lines with push of a button
• Two fault modes (clogged line/broken line)
• Level switch upgrade
• Your choice of red, blue, or black, methanol-resistant, high-temp nylon tubing
Of course, another way to put more octane in your engine from the local gas pump is making the switch to E85 fuel; which is typically a blend of 85-percent denatured ethanol and 15-percent gasoline (though the ratio can vary depending on the time of year) and carries a rating of 100 to 105 octane. Making this move mandates more volume from the fuel system as well, because E85 carries more octane but less energy per liter, so you have to burn more of it.
If you have the proper setup, burning E85 works well, but injecting water-meth can substantially increase the octane of the base fuel. As such, it can push the knock limits of E85 even further. Moreover, unless you are going to test every E85 fill-up, you might not be quite sure what mix and octane level you are getting, which is where water-meth injection can serve to level the playing field.
“It is mainly because of the lower consistency of the ethanol content in E85,” Matt said of the combination of alternative fuel and water-meth injection. “Tuners are starting to use water-meth as an insurance policy against a bad tank of E85.”
Also included in the Stage 2 system is this throttle body spacer plate (PN 40071; $110.99), which allows easily plumbing one or two water-meth nozzles into the air stream without any drilling or custom work.
Hitting The Dyno
To put that theory to the test, Rob Williams of Rob Williams Racing in Denver, Colorado, installed a Snow Performance kit on a 2012 Mustang GT powered by a Ford Performance Aluminator 5.0-liter crate engine fed 18 pounds of boost by a Vortech YSi-Trim supercharger.
Running E85, the most timing Rob could dial in was 18 degrees before the dangerous spark knock reared its head. The combo was putting down an impressive 914 horsepower on just E85. However, to turn up the timing and keep detonation at bay, Rob turned on the Snow Performance system (PN 2132; $599.99); which not only cools the inlet air, but it also adds much-needed octane. With the water-meth spraying and the timing turned up to 22 degrees, the Vortech-boosted Coyote belted out 964 horsepower at the wheels!
To see what water-meth injection could do for his E85-burning Coyote, Rob Williams strapped her down to his Dynojet. He recorded baseline numbers of 914.94 horsepower and 757.80 lb-ft of torque at the wheels with only 18 degrees of timing.
“Robert is a good tuner and the test I believe is valid. I wish we could have had more time to dial it in, but the engine had some issues,” Matt added. “The car is used for high-speed events and was showing erratic performance. The results are good enough for the point we are making.”
Interesting, as Matt believes there was even more power on the table if the opportunity was there to lean out the rich air/fuel ratio this combo was running on the 964-horsepower run. With more time, this car could have put down over 1,000 horsepower at the rear wheels with E85 and water-meth.
If that sort of performance sounds enticing, you can learn more about the Snow Performance systems by visiting the company’s official site here.
With the Snow Performance Stage 2 Coyote system engaged, Rob’s Vortech-supercharged Coyote picked up 49.89 horsepower and 43.43 lb-ft of torque thanks to the cooler charge and the increased octane, which allowed running 22 degrees of timing.