Main Motorcycle: -
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
Combustion in pure oxygen results in much higher temperatures. This is because the inert gasses that comprise 80% of the air we breath act as a sort of coolant, buffer gas to use the technical term. While this significantly reduces the efficiency, the temperature is kept below the melting point of steel.
Rocket engines, the only engines I can think of that run on pure oxygen, have to cool the combustion chamber by circulating the fuel around it before injecting. Most large engines also cool the exhaust nozzle, though some simply melt in a controlled manner.
Nitrous oxide also functions as a coolant. When heated, it decomposes into nitrogen and oxygen in their diatomic forms, absorbing a significant amount of heat in the process. Because the gas resulting from decomposition is 2/3 nitrogen and 1/3 oxygen, you also get a buffer.
If you really want to do this, you will need to know the gas laws, familiarize yourself with molarity, and basically work through a college intro to chemistry book. The math is not nearly as nasty as it looks and you don’t have to worry about electron shells or any of the harder stuff.