The Slow Burn: Watching Nitromethane Combust In Slow Motion Is Pretty Awesome

The Slow Burn: Watching Nitromethane Combust In Slow Motion Is Pretty Awesome

One of the neatest things about nitromethane is the fact that it is a fairly slow burning fuel. It falls between gasoline and methanol on the scale when it comes to burn rate. One of the reasons you see those awesome header flames out of nitro burning drag cars is not only because the blower is typically shoving them out of the pipes but also because it takes a while for the stuff to actually finish being consumed. One of the reasons nitro engines run insane lead in the ignition is to get the party started so that when it is time to blast the piston down in the hole, the burn is in full swing.

This video below is cool because it shows nitromethane being ignited and burning in a container as shot in ultra slow motion. The film was made at Texas A&M in a lab where people study different propellants and stuff for the space program.  We don’t know how long this took in real time but it was probably damned quick.

Remember, nitromethane has less energy stored in it per gallon than gasoline but it has the magic ingredient…oxygen. That oxygen allows the stuff to be firehosed into an engine and ignited. When you start to burning it in volume, the power potential grows exponentially.

So here it is, the slow burn!

Press play below to see nitromethane combust in slow motion –

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5 thoughts on “The Slow Burn: Watching Nitromethane Combust In Slow Motion Is Pretty Awesome

  1. Chevy Hatin' Mad Geordie

    So that explains why a Top Fuel car’s spark plugs melt and the cylinders turn into diesel motors after just a few seconds,

    Awesome – but I bet there a few winos in Newcastle that could drink pints of it with no ill effect. Until they lit a cigarette,,,

    1. China

      Hey Geordie, not necessarily. Fuel car I’m lucky enough to work on ran the quickest ever 1320 pass in Oz last June (4.443); when I pulled the plugs after the run all but two were mint, as was the rest of the engine. One of those rare occasions when everything worked as it should – doesn’t happen very often!

  2. Danno

    Wondering how they got the fuel to burn without compression. My understanding is that nitro typically won’t burn without it.

    1. Michael Schwartz

      Doesn’t the saying go that you can drop a match into a puddle of nitro and the match will extinguish, but if you hit it with a hammer it will explode?

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