I'm looking for a chemical reaction that produces a large amount of a gas in a very short amount of time (like less than a second). What are my options?


The reaction used for car airbags involves sodium azide (NaN3). A spark initiates the reaction and it generates gaseous nitrogen really fast.

I don't know much more about it but you can certainly find some good informations on google!

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    $\begingroup$ Can you add some source or make it more detailed? I think this answer is considered as law quality. $\endgroup$ – Freddy May 2 '15 at 6:19
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Freddy. This reaction is the first that came to me, but your answer should contain more information (for starters, the complete reaction). I think that prior to this a similar reaction was used, but it generated $\ce{H2}$ which was a bit dangerous... $\endgroup$ – Molx May 2 '15 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ I wish I could give more informations but I looked in Housecroft & Sharpe Inorganic Chemistry which was the reference book for my inorganic chemistry course last semester and there is no mention of this reaction. All I have is a pdf document with class notes produced by my teacher, that's where I found the equation but there isn't much more information. The only other thing it says is that sodium azide is used in air bags. $\endgroup$ – Peyolikepeyote May 3 '15 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ Here is the abstract from an article I found on sci. finder: Source: Diemann, E. Chemistry of airbags, Praxis der Naturwissenschaften, Chemie Volume 42, Issue 8, p.3-4, 1993 A lecture demonstration for school teachers concerning the thermal decompn. of NaN3 into Na and N2 is described. Information is given on the application of this reaction to the very rapid formation of N2, which can be used to inflate airbags in motor vehicles. The reaction is initiated by the closing of an elec. switch upon mech. impact, and the dangerous Na, which is also generated, is removed by other means. $\endgroup$ – Peyolikepeyote May 3 '15 at 22:14

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