Re: plane powered by nitrogen ... is that for real?

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Wed Oct 25 2000 - 18:05:14 MDT

"Michael S. Lorrey" wrote:
> wrote:
> >
> > In a message dated 10/25/00 1:09:01 PM, writes:
> >
> > >I can hear the howls from the greens now - what is the exhaust? N2O?
> >
> > If a plane spewed out pure N20 or N02, it wouldn't be just the greens
> > that howled - that would be incredibly, well, noxious ;-) But I
> > thought N2 was the most stable form of nitrogen anyway ...
> It might be stable, but its not, apparently, the lowest energy compound of
> nitrogen, since the Manhattan Project scientists were concerned at the time ofthe Alamagordo test that it would touch off the worldwide combustion of the
> earths atmosphere... It just takes a really high temperature to make it combust,
> which is why nukes don't do so, the energy output dissipates too quickly in open
> air to maintain the continued reaction, so at some distance from ground zero,
> the air no longer combusts. I imagine that the jet we are talking about must
> have one hell of a compression system to get N and O to sustainably combust.

Now, I don't know if I heard this story correctly (I did hear it in a bar, but
they were some engineers from a really high level R&D outfit...). The
alt.extropians newsgroup lists a post about a new project at the U of Washington
to develop an auto engine that runs off of compressed nitrogen. This would
obviously work in place of battery powered electric cars, thus alleviating the
environmental problems of lots of batteries being thrown out. There is a volume
differential between liquid and gaseous nitrogen of 700, so its rather obvious
that a liquid nitrogen expansion motor would be an effective means of utilizing
this compact energy storage technique.

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