Law & Order

Supply of Nitrous Oxide for Racing Still Challenging in Some Areas

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

A 2016 explosion at a nitrous-oxide production plant in Florida continues to impact many in the racing community. There are only a relative handful of production plants in the U.S. and the Florida plant produced an estimated 40% of the North American supply. The plant is still not operating after the explosion, which killed a plant worker and caused extensive damage.

The chemical is most widely used as an anesthetic in both dental and medical practices. It also is used for food production (whipped cream) and by the racing industry. Following the accident, the companies producing nitrous prioritized shipments for medical use.

The shortages were documented last December and January, and expected to gradually ease with production increases elsewhere. Many areas of the country are not reporting shortages, although prices may be significantly higher due to lessened supply. However, it remains a problem in some areas for local gas suppliers. It is currently anticipated that nationwide supplies will be returning to normal by the fourth quarter of 2017.

SEMA has been in contact with the major nitrous producers, who have noted the challenges of filling the void after last year’s explosion. The companies have hired additional workers and increased production at other facilities and are working diligently to manage their customer base. Companies are urged to work closely with their distributors. 

SEMA will continue to update the community in the coming months. For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at