When it comes to tuning a turbocharged engine, fuel quality is often the most limiting factor when trying to run a high boost, high-horsepower setup. For those of us living in states with tight emissions standards, this is particularly true. Running a water/methanol injection system allows you to run a much more aggressive tune by actually boosting your engine’s resistance to knock, which allows you to effectively add timing and boost to make more power safely.
Water-Methanol Injection is a process by which a mixture of water and methanol are injected into the fuel/air mixture on the way to the combustion chamber. By injecting water and methanol in a finely atomized spray, the water evaporates under the high temperature of a firing cylinder. When the water evaporates, it takes the heat along with it. The process produces a sort of chemical intercooling inside the cylinder.
The Snow Performance water-meth kit installed on an EcoBoost Mustang. (Photo Credit: EcoBoostMustang.org)
The methanol also has a cooling and octane boosting effect as it burns. For example, the Snow Performance Boost Cooler water-methanol injection system raises the effective octane of 91-octane pump gas to race gas levels. This reduces the chance of harmful engine detonation to allow users to safely increase the boost and timing for up to 25 percent more horsepower.
According to Snow Performance, gains of 50-70 horsepower are common, making this a relatively cheap but effective performance upgrade. The only problem with running a water-methanol injection system is running out of water-meth. Without a proper failsafe setup, you are running the risk of a catastrophic engine failure if the system malfunctions or does not run at optimum efficiency.
Snow Performance says it was the first company to bring water-methanol injection to the marketplace in 2000. (Photo Credit: Snow Performance)
It’s important to make sure you use a failsafe and some sort of level indicator for the reservoir, to ensure you know when the water-meth level is getting low.
I devised Safe Injection 12 years ago as the result of listening to tuners and some owners of expensive builds. — Matt Snow, Snow Performance
TheSnow PerformanceSafe Injection (PN300200; $179.99) takes safety to that next level. It is fully adjustable and measures actual water-methanol flow, not pressure or current draw from the pump. The SafeInjection unit monitors the flow of water-methanol in the system.
When flow drops below the unit’s set point for a specified period of time, the fault trigger will go to a high state of 12-volt signal wire. In addition to the supplied red LED, it can reduce timing with an ignition/timing controller such as an MSD or other aftermarket ignition box.
Because this is such an important option for a water-meth system, we asked Matt Snow, of Snow Performance, about the benefits of his Safe Injection system…
Another key and distinct advantage to the Snow Performance system is that it is also easy to install and set up.
KG: How did you come up with your Safe Injection system?
Matt Snow: I devised Safe Injection 12 years ago as the result of listening to tuners and some owners of expensive builds. They expressed the need for more safety and peace of mind in using water-methanol injection. I recommend it to everyone running over 10 psig. It is so nice being able to use all your power and not to have to worry about running out of fluid.
KG:What makes your Safe Injection system unique from others that are on the market?
Matt Snow:It is unique in that it is the only device that truly makes water-methanol safe. It is active in that it will automatically make the tune safe if there is ever a failure (running out of water-meth etc.) with the system.
KG:Does your Safe Injection system constantly monitor the flow of the water-methanol injection system?
Matt Snow: That’s correct. The Safe Injection unit monitors flow and ever too high or under the pre-set minimum flow, it sends out a signal to trigger a different tune, open up a blow-off valve, etc. It gives those who want to get all the HP potential out of their combination with an aggressive tune and need confidence that nothing will happen if injection isn’t what it should be.
Snow Performance Safe Injection
• Ability to run extreme tunes and high boost with 100-percent safety
• Fully adjustable alarm set point
• Automatically warns the driver and/or reduces boost or timing if fluid flow is insufficient.
• Integrates with Popular Aftermarket Ignitions
• Overflow alarm for leak detection
• Easy installation
KG:How difficult is the installation?
Matt Snow:Installation takes about 10 minutes and consists of putting the unit between the reservoir and the pump, splicing into the wire going to the pump, black to ground, and system fault trigger wire.
KG: You also offer a Safe Injection Flow Gauge. Do you have to run both systems?
Matt Snow:The Safe Injection gauge is an option and will show you in real time how much you are injecting at any time. Many high-horsepower applications use this to tune with.
KG: When would you use the Safe Injection Wastegate Solenoid/Supercharger Bypass Valve Kit? Can you run all three units at the same time?
Matt Snow:The Safe Injection wastegate/bypass valve is our most common Safe Injection upgrade and is used on a boosted application in order to instantly reduce boost if injection is lower than it should be to provide peace of mind and real safety while running our water/methanol injection system.
In addition to the Snow Performance Safe Injection unit, the company also sells the optional methanol flow gauge which provides real-time flow data through the system showing you exactly what’s happening. The wastegate/bypass valve is also designed to be used with the Safe Injection unit and will cut boost in the event of an injection error.
Snow Performance highly recommends using the Safe Injection system for anybody who puts increased timing and boost into an expensive engine. The system allows you to run increased boost and timing with confidence in your water-methanol system. If that sounds like a good addition to your combo, you can find information on the entire Snow Performance product line on the company’s official website here.