How much air will an engine consume at wide open throttle?

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The headline to this article is clearly the type of question that keeps Engineering Explained host Jason Fenske up at night. Luckily for him, he's got the math and science skills to figure it all out. Fenske wanted to explain air intake for a given engine to the rest of us, and thus visual aids were required.

To show the flow of gas moving from the engine out through the exhaust, Jason attached a pair of balloons to the back of his own Honda S2000. It's a fun way to show the volume of gas being expelled.

A better way to do it, though, is to crunch some numbers. If Jason were to sit in his car and keep the pedal to the floor, his 2.0-liter four-cylinder Honda engine would rev to its 9,000-rpm redline. At that speed, the engine is consuming 9 cubic meters of air per minute. In his garage space, he has 108 cubic meters. So it would take the S2000 just 12 minutes to utilize all the available air in that space.

Ramping things up a bit, Fenske ran the same calculation for the Bugatti Chiron instead. That insane-o machine takes in a massive 60,000 liters of air per minute at full throttle. In the same garage space, it would take less than 2 minutes to use all 108 cubic meters of air.

Engines need air; it's a vital piece of the internal combustion puzzle. Some clearly need considerably more air than others, however.

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