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Fueling a nitro car

Adding 20% nitro fuel to a nitro-powered RC; © M. James

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Definition: RC vehicles are powered by either an electric motor or a fuel-powered engine.. Non-electric radio controlled vehicle glow engines use a methanol-based fuel that contains nitromethane so the term nitro or nitromethanol refers to this type of RC and to the fuel they use.

What Nitro Fuel is Made Of
Nitro fuel has three main components: methanol, nitromethane, and oil along with additives such as anti-corrosion agents or degumming agents added by the various fuel manufacturers. The methanol provides the main energy source for the RC engine. The nitromethane delivers oxygen to the engine, enhancing combustion and delivering more power, and the oil lubricates and helps to keep the engine cool. Even though the methanol is the most plentiful component, it's the percentage of nitromethane that is used to rate the nitro fuel.

Amount of Nitro in Nitro Fuel
The amount of nitromethane in the fuel is typically about 20% but could be anywhere in the 10% to 40% range or higher. Nitromethane or nitro fuel requires special handling not only for safety but also to avoid evaporation and contamination.

Nitro Isn't Gas
Nitro RCs are sometimes referred to as gas-powered, or gas RCs; however, unless it is a true gasoline engine with a spark plug (some very large scale RC cars and aircraft) then you should not use regular gasoline or diesel fuel in the RC.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nitro

Also Known As: nitromethane | gas | nitromethanol | glow fuel
Most toy-grade RCs are powered by batteries but nitro cars are common in professional RC racing.
RC Terms Related to Nitro
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