Model Airplanes generally use something called glow fuel.
This is because the most popular type of engine is the glow-ignition model engine. Glow engine’s do not require a battery or capacitors and therefore make model planes lighter and fly better.
This is usually a combination of Methanol aka methyl alcohol, oil, and nitro aka nitro-methane. Methanol is the largest component, oil reduces friction in the engine, and nitro is used for speed boosts.
Nitro-methane is the fuel that makes your plane “explode” with speed. Ever seen the mini explosions coming out of the back of a funny car? That is “nitro”. It should be noted that nitro is not allowed in the “F” class international competitions of the FAI.
The mixed in oil lubricates the metal parts in the engine. This fuel will burn extremely hot, and the resulting friction can damage the engine parts. But mixing oil with the fuel causes everything to flush through the engine much more smoothly and prevents extreme damage.
One of the best clean air fuels is methanol. Methanol reacts with the coiled platinum filament in the glow plug. This is called a catalytic reaction. Using methanol in your model airplanes is used for three major reasons:
1. Its cheap.
2. It releases a lot of energy per cubic pound.
3. The small “glow plugs” that fit well in model airplanes will spark methanol well.
Using methanol is a much cleaner solution then fully fossil fuels. Using methanol in your model airplanes is a great way to help the earth. And you’ll never need to take your model plane to one of these places.
An often cited fuel combination amount is about %65 percent methanol, 20 percent oil and 15 percent nitro. These aren’t fixed in stone, but is one of the most common mixtures.
There are results that show air pollution is dramatically decreased when methanol replaces gasoline. In fact air quality agencies were among the initial proponents of methanol in the late 20th century.
We also know that carcinoma causing elements are absent from methanol. This is especially beneficial as you may often be in close contact with the fuel from your model airplane. Methanol is poisonous to humans in large amounts so be careful to store it in a safe place, away from children. It doesn’t even have to be ingested to be toxic. If too many vapors get in the lungs or a lot is absorbed through the skin it can make you very sick.
But it’s affect on air quality is much better than the normal fuel. Normal gasoline emits hydrocarbons like benzene which are carcinogenic and can pollute air and groundwater. Methanol is biodegradeable and so if released into the environment is naturally and harmlessly absorbed when diluted
In conclusion lets note that if you are flying model airplanes you are probably using a methanol based fuel. Know that you are using a fuel that is cleaner than the normal car based fuels that are required to use smog shops. Know also that you should be careful when handling the fuel.