A dragster fuelled by liquid nitrous oxide and vegetable oil dubbed ‘Laffin’ Gas’ is to make an attempt on the speed record for alternative fuelled cars at Shakespeare County Raceway in Warwickshire.
The Laffin’ Gas rocket dragster is the brainchild of David Knight and Carolynne Campbell, who believe that the technology could be applied equally well to the rocket-assisted take-off of aircraft and UAVs.
Speaking at the recent Southern Manufacturing Show, where the car was on display, Knight explained that each of the car’s four rocket tubes are lined with thick cardboard soaked in cooking oil – effectively a bio-fuelled rocket engine. The cardboard is burnt in a high-pressure stream of nitrous oxide to create a hypersonic exhaust flow.
The nitrous oxide is held in four high-pressure cylinders, one for each throttle valve and motor. The valves are solenoid operated and open against the flow of the liquid. Any interruption of electrical power causes them to shutdown instantly. The pyrotechnic charges that start ignition are set off by glow plugs.
The dragster is capable of producing 4,000 to 8,000lbs of thrust, and has a power to weight ratio that is four to five times that of a Formula 1 racing car. The team hopes the race will set an early benchmark for the top speed of over 200mph (322kph) for a bio-fuel powered car.