Nitro gas is generally used in high-performance classes of automotive drag racing, and to fuel remote control cars, planes, trucks and boats. Nitro gas is a blend of nitromethane, methanol and oil.
Nitromethane is a gas that is derived from propane. The extra oxygen molecules contained within the nitromethane molecule help improve the performance by burning more methanol. The oil component of the nitro fuel is usually a combination of castor and synthetic oil. In addition to the three primary components of the nitro fuel, some other additives are often added to alter some characteristics of the fuel. These additives might include anti-foaming agents and substances to prevent corrosion inside the engine.
Nitro gas fuel can break down and decompose if it is not stored properly. Methanol attracts moisture, which can cause the fuel to get contaminated with water, resulting in poor, slow engine performance in the RC equipment. Ultraviolet light from the sun can break down the nitromethane. To avoid this, it is important to store the fuel in a metal can away from sunlight.
Most of the engines in RC cars used today are 2-stroke engines, which means it takes two strokes of the piston to complete one engine cycle. Nitro engines typically use a carburetor to mix the fuel and air together, although for some applications where throttling is not required, they have a simple venturi with a spraybar and needle valve.