We give Big Red’s 6.6L Duramax a shot of cool fuel with an AEM water-injection system; 50-state-legal kit lowers EGTs under heavy loads
By Bruce W. Smith
One of the fastest ways to do a lot of damage to a diesel engine is to cook a turbo by letting the exhaust gas temperature (EGT) get out of control under heavy loads.
That’s just the type of thing that happens when diesel pickups are pulling heavy trailers up long grades in the middle of the summer.
Big load, high boost, in high ambient temperatures for long durations does not a happy turbo-diesel make.
One method to help keep a lid on those extreme EGTs is to cool that fuel-air charge using a water or water-methanol injection system.
The technology has been in use for many decades, being used in fighters during WWII and heavily used in the turbo’d cars of the ‘70s. It’s quite common on big rigs today.
(My first experience with water-injection was when I put Webers and a Shelby-Spearco turbo that used water-injection on my new ’77 Celica GT. It allowed me to run 15psi boost without melting the engine or destroying pistons.)
Today’s pickup turbo diesels, such as the Duramax 6.6L, respond quite nicely running water/methanol injection to lower operating EGTs – and without the need for additional electronic engine tuning.
A 50/50 water/methanol mix can add as much as a 20 percent boost in power while helping cool down EGTs by hundreds of degrees.
The downside for the company pickup is it isn’t street legal in a number of states that adhere to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) emissions standards.
On the other hand, water-injection kits, which AEM Performance Electronics has C.A.R.B.-certified, provides similar results for work trucks – and it’s legal in all 50 states.
Water-injection can add as much as 8 percent in power in some situations, lowers EGTs very similar to the water-meth mix, and bumps up towing fuel economy.
You are probably wondering how water can help improve fuel economy and make power when it’s not a fuel.
A Timely Upgrade
Those are the reasons we had Truck Supply & Outfitter’s Daniel Parker and David Adair install an AEM 50-state legal Water Injection System on our 2008 GMC Dually’s Duramax.
The upgrade like we did it on Big Red takes about six hours. About half of that time R&Ring the intake manifold so it could be drilled to accept the injector, and drilling and installing the EGT probe in the new BD exhaust manifold. The drilling is easy–the R&R not so much!
Note: We upgraded to a BD Diesel performance exhaust manifold ($300) while we had the OE one off to maximize exhaust flow to the turbo and improve power. (See separate how-to.)
The remainder of time is spent running the wiring harness, mounting the optional gauges, installing the pyro sender in the exhaust manifold, and mounting the pump and water tank.
Take my word for it: This is a very cool engine upgrade – in more ways than one.
AEM Electronics: www.aemelectronics.com; 310-484-2322
BD Diesel Performance; www.dieselperformance.com; 888-841-8884
Truck Supply & Outfitters; www.trucksupplyandutfitters.com; 205-553-4203