Two Balloons And A Honda S2000 Show How Fast Engines Consume Air

A Honda S2000’s 2.0-liter engine gets stacked up against Bugatti’s monstrous 8.0-liter lump.

Cars with astronomical numbers like the Bugatti Chiron are a bit hard to put into terms that most people can understand, so the manufacturer likes to use phrases like, “At top speed the cooling system circulates 211 gallons of coolant through the engine every minute,” or, “The Chiron consumes 15,850 gallons of oxygen per minute at wide open throttle.” The problem is, those figures are still quite hard to understand without a visualization. Thankfully a YouTube channel like Engineering Explained exists.

That's because host Jason Fenske brought his Honda S2000 and two large balloons to help us understand see just how much air an engine burns through. Of course the scale of this experiment is much smaller than what would result if Fenske were to get ahold of an force-induced 8.0-liter Bugatti Chiron.

But relative to a person, a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter inline four still consumes more than enough air to fill a pair of balloons and help us gain perspective. With a bit of simple math, Fenske manages to calculate that his Honda S2000 would chew up 9,000 liters of air per minute if the Honda’s engine is screaming at its 9,000 RPM limit. He derived this by taking the engine size, 2.0-liters, multiplying it by 9,000 for the number of revolutions per minute, and dividing by two to account for the fact that it takes two crankshaft revolutions for each cylinder to fire off once. At this rate the S2000 would eat up the air in Fenske’s two car garage in 12 minutes.

By comparison, it would only take the Chiron 1.8 minutes to consume the same amount of air with its engine at the limit. How’s that for scale?

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