Color-changing sparks

Sparks are a fascinating phenomenon well-known from campfires, flint stones and electric sparklers and other pyrotechnic articles. Looking at sparks more closely reveals the limited colors in which they appear. Dark red-orange ...

Electric shift prompts belt-tightening for German carmakers

German carmakers are increasingly turning to electric vehicles to master tough new emissions limits looming in the EU, but the shift away from internal combustion engines will entail years of lower margins and profits, cost ...

Digesting hydrocarbons

Volatile organic compounds can be found in the air—everywhere. A wide range of sources, including from plants, cooking fuels and household cleaners, emit these compounds directly. They also can be formed in the atmosphere ...

Detroit show has SUVs, horsepower, but electric cars are few

Automakers have promised to start selling hordes of electric cars in the next few years, but only two will be unveiled at the big Detroit auto show that kicks off this week—and those aren't even ready for production.

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Combustion

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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