Alchemy is a power or process of transforming something common into something special. This is perhaps what the engineers at FJO Racing Products have accomplished with their latest generation water/methanol injection system. But have the engine control wizards at FJO chemically produced what we hope to be horsepower gold or are we looking at nothing more than a regular old pail of tap water?
The benefits of water injection are based on the principle that evaporated water in the intake system lowers intake and combustion temperatures thereby reducing pre-ignition, or detonation. Since detonation is normally combated in turbocharged engines by over-fueling, elimination of this nasty necessity not only increases horsepower but leaves piston tops and engine valves sparkling clean. Even the Brake-Specific Fuel Consumption, or fuel mileage, is improved and engine components last longer as a result of the lower temperatures and cleaner operating environment.
Since water injection reduces detonation, users can run lower octane fuel. However, before getting overly excited about lower gas prices realize that the benefits go even further. Most are under the impression that high octane means high horsepower. In the case of racing fuel, this is true. Such fuels are designed to produce both high octane and a high amount of energy per liter. Pump gases, however, do not usually follow this pattern. The additives that increase the octane rating at the local gas station often lower the amount of energy released per liter burned. Adding water in the correct amount allows the use of a lower octane fuel, the ability to add timing and to increase boost levels, which results in a net horsepower gain.
What about water/methanol injection? Adding methanol to the mix simply multiplies the effectiveness of water injection. The byproduct of water mixed with methanol is an oxygenated fuel, which further increases the benefits just outlined. Generally a 30 to 40 percent methanol mix yields the best overall results, although small gains can be made by going as high as 50 percent. Since methanol has a lower detonation point than gasoline, going higher than 50 percent can actually increase detonation.
Interestingly, most windshield washer fluids that are rated for temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees F are a convenient, inexpensive source of a pre-mixed 60/40-water/methanol solution. But before you rush out, running a line from your windshield washer pump to your intake, you may want to ask why all turbocharged cars don't have this. The answer is simple: producing an effective water injection system is more complicated than it sounds. First, the water must be finely atomized so it actually evaporates and doesn't just puddle in the intake, flooding some cylinders while allowing others to detonate. Another problem is pressure. When boosting more than 15 psi, a standard automotive water pump won't provide enough pressure to actually spray anything. A third problem is the corrosive nature of methanol. Not just any liquid pump can handle water and methanol. Then there is the problem of flow control. Users need something that is going to precisely meter the flow based on parameters like engine speed, boost and throttle position. Spray too much and you'll see a power loss instead of a gain. Suddenly this is looking like advanced engineering.
Fortunately the engineers at FJO have this under control. Users only need to select the proper solenoid nozzle and then use their easy-to-use graphics-based computer interface to set up the water injection map. Full integration with their industry-leading wideband oxygen sensor controller allows tuners to monitor the entire system, including air/fuel ratios.
Why should you care? We're glad you asked. To get the maximum benefit out of any turbo or supercharger, it's necessary to inject the precise amount of water/ methanol into the intake without drowning the fire; ensuring that air/fuel ratios are on target is just as important. When done right, this results in each of the good things we mentioned earlier. Get the air/fuel ratio too lean and bad things happen-very bad things, very quickly.
FJO introduced their first water/methanol injection system with air/fuel ratio monitoring years ago. When it came time to freshen up the existing controller, FJO decided to give customers even more. Since the majority of these kits are used on turbocharged vehicles, what better gift than to include a fully integrated boost controller? The second-generation FJO water/methanol injection system includes one of the most advanced boost control systems available. And they put it all into one box-simple, because now the boost control and water/methanol system work together, seamlessly. Add the wideband and users now have performance and safety.
FJO's second-generation controller features dual 256-cell boost control maps with both normal and performance modes as well as a 256-cell water/methanol map. The kit also includes an ultra-fine misting nozzle (less than 50-micron droplet size), and all corrosion-resistant stainless steel fittings. Added benefits include over-boost protection, automatic lean condition boost cut, automatic water/methanol injection failure boost cut and automatic pump control. And like we said, the system even integrates with FJO's wideband monitor and comes with graphical monitoring and logging software.
Since the spark plug box-sized controller is a sealed unit, it can be installed almost anywhere. Connect the harness to signals for a tachometer, throttle position sensor, ignition power and solenoids. Then connect the MAP sensor hose, and the installation is done. Weather-tight locking connectors make sure that connections don't come apart or corrode. The most difficult part seems to be installing the solenoid-nozzle assembly, which requires welding on the supplied bung to the intake manifold or piping. The solenoid screws in and is supported by the fitting and plugs into the supplied harness. When using the boost controller, the optional valve will also need to be installed. Everything, including each fitting and cable, is included in the kit, reducing installation time.
Installing the pump is fairly simple since it's a self-regulated returnless unit. In other words, there's just one line joining the tank to the pump to the nozzle with no return lines. Of course, the necessary tubing is included with the kit as well. The pump can be installed in a convenient location since it's self-priming. This means worrying about where the pump is in relation to the tank isn't an issue. The pressure sensor can also be added for increased safety. This allows the boost-cut feature to kick in should water/methanol pressure drop. As shown, all junctions are stainless steel, commercial-grade compression fittings that are easy to install. This is the last place to expect problems.
Then there's the tank. Interestingly enough, the only thing the FJO kit doesn't include is a tank, but then again, most cars already have one. It's called the windshield washer reservoir, which we generally end up using anyways. Of course, generic tanks can also be used, however, make sure it's easily accessible for filling and fluid level checks.
Setting up the PC-based software and using its editing tools is easy. Here both normal and performance boost modes can be set. Each mode allows users to configure a separate table that can be selected with a single switch. Now the driver can tone down boost without having to use a laptop. The guys at FJO must have read our minds.
Building the water/injection table is easy too. Users have full control over boost and engine speed ranges, allowing use of the entire table for specific maps, like manifold pressure versus rpm. Remember this is just a water/methanol controller and not a fuel management system.
Configuring the boost is just as easy. Again, simply configure the throttle position sensor range and rpm range to allow the entire table to cover ranges important to you. Additionally, users have the added safety to cut boost in the event that water pressure is lost, air/fuel ratios go lean or over-boost spikes occur. FJO even allowed for a delay on the lean cut to help filter out those short lean spikes that really don't matter.
Once configured, users can upload the configuration from their laptops and get ready to go. Once uploaded, it's easy to verify that everything works as planned. This is where the FJO engineers put their thinking caps on. The monitor function in the software allows users to view everything the controller sees and does. Logging and playback after the run is easy and the log file can be plotted using the analysis feature. Options for customizing the display are available, so watching the numbers isn't mandatory-just keep an eye out for when they change color.
As far as we are concerned, alchemy is no longer a myth. FJO outdid themselves with their new water/methanol and boost control system.