New look at old data leads to cleaner engines

New insights about how to understand and ultimately control the chemistry of ignition behavior and pollutant formation have been discovered in research led by Sandia National Laboratories. The discovery eventually will lead ...

Electric car switch on for health benefits

Could the health benefits and reduced costs to healthcare systems be enough to justify subsidizing charging infrastructure to allow society to switch from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles faster than current ...

Improving engine performance and fuel efficiency

A study conducted in part at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan suggests reformulating lubricating oils for internal combustion engines could significantly improve not only the life of the oil ...


Combustion (English pronunciation: /kəmˈbʌs.tʃən /) or burning is the sequence of exothermic chemical reactions between a fuel and an oxidant accompanied by the production of heat and conversion of chemical species. The release of heat can result in the production of light in the form of either glowing or a flame. Fuels of interest often include organic compounds (especially hydrocarbons) in the gas, liquid or solid phase.

In a complete combustion reaction, a compound reacts with an oxidizing element, such as oxygen or fluorine, and the products are compounds of each element in the fuel with the oxidizing element. For example:

A simple example can be seen in the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen, which is a commonly used reaction in rocket engines:

The result is water vapor.

Complete combustion is almost impossible to achieve. In reality, as actual combustion reactions come to equilibrium, a wide variety of major and minor species will be present such as carbon monoxide and pure carbon (soot or ash). Additionally, any combustion in atmospheric air, which is 78% nitrogen, will also create several forms of nitrogen oxides.

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