I am trying to figure out if Dicyanoacetylene, aka carbon subnitride, aka $\ce{C4N2}$, can have a similar reaction with air as gasoline, or if it only creates a lot of heat but not much expansion? As I understand it, the thing that makes gasoline useful is that when it combusts, the product has a much lower density than the reactants, causing a huge expansion to reduce pressure (which drives pistons in an engine). Does $\ce{C4N2}$ have a similar effect, or does it have only comparatively negligible expansion compared to gasoline and simply generates more heat? Or might it produce a similar expansion or more than gasoline?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome to chemistry.stackexchange.com. Feel free to take a tour of the site. All reactions leading to gaseous products will have a much greater desire to expand than liquid ones, so at first sight the effect should be similar. I’ll leave it to someone closer to the field to actually answer, though. $\endgroup$ – Jan Feb 4 '16 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ I was pretty sure it would have the expansion effect, but I also want to know how it compares to the expansion of the gasoline reaction. $\endgroup$ – cluemein Feb 4 '16 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ Why are you even using strange "expansion effect" expression? It's not important at all what, say, molar volume would have products in room temp. Important is that reaction generates a lot of heat, which leads to pressure rise. $\endgroup$ – Mithoron Apr 3 '18 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ I guess it does come out a bit strange. I think what I was going for when I asked was what volume does it's by product occupy ultimately and whether the pressure produced is greater than that of gasoline. $\endgroup$ – cluemein Apr 3 '18 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ What matters in combustion reactions in engines is not the relative volume of the reactants and products but the amount of energy produced. And why would any highly unstable, potentially poisonous and spontaneously explosive compound be good for anything as a fuel? $\endgroup$ – matt_black May 27 '19 at 13:14


You wouldn't want to burn this thing anywhere, it burns like, 9010 degrees... Fahrenheit. It's nearly the temperature of the surface of the sun (around 900 degrees off). Not much can contain it. So unless you had some kind of super-metal, than you are out of luck trying to use it as fuel.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow! A chemical that burns as hot as the surface of the Sun!?! PLEASE give a reference, I am intrigued. $\endgroup$ – Oscar Lanzi Dec 5 '18 at 1:19

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