I think it is an important point that if it goes off, it needs to be able to vent controllably. OLDFAC makes that point well with the way explosives storage facilitys are built.
Petrol is a very potent chemical and one would wonder that if it was invented today the saftey side of it would be much tighter than it is now.
One thing not many people know is that it will only burn as a vapour. It is the vapour that is burning, not the liquid. If you light a container of it you will see just that. Don't though!
This is why fuel injection is a better way (along with better control via the ECU) of keeping the emissions down, and power up, by atomizing the fuel into the smallest droplets it can, which when introduced into a hot engines cylinder will vaporize easier and burn more cleanly. (explains also why a dead cold engine dosen't like to run cleanly)
A full container of petrol, whilst having more potential energy, can be safer than having a relatively empty one, full of fumes ready to go off with the slightest spark. (static elec comes to mind here)
Why didn't the car blow up? Who knows, but stupid people can sometimes be very lucky!!!
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