Photo: Huw Pritchard/Flickr.com
Hold onto your hat! This one’s going to go by fast. High speed, today on Engineering Works!
High fuel prices are driving most automotive engineers these days to find ways to give you better gas mileage. But not all of them. Some are looking for speed.
The ultimate in all-out speed are top fuel dragsters. These vehicles are – fast. Like 300 miles an hour fast. Like getting from one end of a quarter-mile strip to the other in about four and a half seconds. About as long as it took to read that sentence.
Here’s how they do it. Horsepower. Lots of it. A 500-cubic-inch Hemi engine turns out so much horsepower that we don’t have the instruments to measure it. Engineers calculate it at about 5,000 horsepower. That’s more than the first four rows at Indianapolis on Memorial Day.
These engines are hot. The fuel burns at more than 7,000 degrees Fahrenheit. By the end of the run, the spark plugs have pretty much melted and the engine keeps running by itself. The only way to stop it is to shut off the fuel.
And talk about gas mileage. Going flat out, a top fuel dragster burns a gallon and a half of nitro methane fuel – every second. That’s as much as a 747 airliner uses. But the dragster produces more energy.
The timer here is running down and our light is green. We’re out of here.
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