May 18, 2014
Image of Nitromethane 3D Image of Nitromethane

Nitromethane is a strongly polar, oily liquid that is used as a solvent or reactant in organic chemical synthesis and as a fuel in motor sports, rockets, hobby airplanes, and the like. It is produced, along with other nitroalkanes, in a high-temperature reaction between propane and nitric acid.

Drag racers such as John Force and his family use nitromethane as a fuel because it requires only about one-ninth as much air as gasoline for complete combustion. Although it has only about one-fourth the combustion energy of gasoline, its lower air requirement gives it the advantage of producing the high instantaneous thrust needed for drag racing. 

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