You might have seen in movies or car shows where the exhaust of a car shoots flames and you begin to wonder what kind of trick it is, well today I'll get to tell you about what causes this awesome phenomenon.
This unique action is called a backfire or an afterburn, and it simply means the explosion that happens outside the cylinder of an engine that is the exhaust system, rather than happening inside the combustion chamber of the engine.
In a simpler term, it refers to the explosion which occurs when unburnt fuel is passing through the hot exhaust system, thus making a visible flame momentarily shoot out.
What Causes backfire?
Backfire usually happens when there is a problem with timing, meaning if the timing is just too early the spark plug will then fire, right before the intake valves close, this will then cause fire to spread to the intake manifold, this process will then ignite the air and fuel mixture there; this explosion finally moves through the carburettor and air filter.
Another process that can cause this backfire is when the carburettor is not well adjusted, this will then cause the air and fuel mixture to burn very slowly to the extent that combustion is still happening in the exhaust stroke even when the intake valve is open, the flame will then move up to the intake valve thus causing it to backfire.
How racers and stunt drivers make cars backfire
It should be noted that commuter or regular cars are built with safety and efficiency in mind so these cars have what is called silencers or catalytic converters which help clean up the exhaust gases before it is released into the atmosphere.
That is why this phenomenon can only occur in high-performance cars such as sports cars, hypercars, power bikes and some motorboats.
So back to how it is achieved; first of all stunt drivers have to make sure they are sending lots of fuel into the exhaust system, they can do this by accelerating hard with an open throttle then they quickly slide their feet from the accelerator, this will make the throttle quickly shut.
When that fuel and air have been dumped inside the combustion chamber, it is then passed to the hot exhaust pipes which may probably ignite, thus causing explosive sounds and flames coming out from the exhaust of the car.
Photo credit: Google and YouTube.
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