The Combustion Of Household Fuels

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The Combustion of Household Fuels

Fire, from humans’ first interactions with it, has been terrifying, delighting, and mysterious all at once. Yet it is impossible to imagine a day passing without any interactions with the phenomenon. From burning wood in the fireplace, to preparing tea on a stove operating with natural gas, to using charcoal for a backyard barbecue, different objects are chosen as the source of combustion depending on the task that they need to accomplish. Furthermore, with parents, teachers, and firefighters incessantly warning students not to place certain substances close to nearby ignition sources, one cannot help but wonder how the chemical characteristics of these substances play a role in determining
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Further experiments would then need to be performed to gain a complete understanding of the benefits and consequences of combusting certain fuels.

Background Information

The combustion of the hydrocarbons and organic molecules found in fuels is a chemical reaction that primarily involves the oxidation of carbon and hydrogen in various compounds to release heat and produce water and carbon dioxide. When the environment lacks sufficient oxygen, rendering oxygen as the limiting reagent in the reaction, incomplete combustion would occur. This involves the production of other chemicals such as carbon monoxide and solid carbon in addition to water and carbon dioxide. The general chemical equations for the incomplete and complete combustion of hydrocarbons are as follows:

Complete: CxHy + O2(g) → H2O(l) + CO2(g)

Incomplete: CxHy + O2(g) → H2O(l) + CO2(g) + CO(g) + C(s)

Of course, the composition of each fuel varies, yet the main organic molecule they contain can be used to formulate the basic chemical reaction that is undergone when each substance is combusted. In the case with fondue fuel, methanol is the main substance that is responsible for combustion and can be represented with the following equation (NIST 2015):

2 CH3OH(l) + 3 O2(g) → 2 CO2(g) + 4 H2O(l),where is -725.7 kJ/mol
Fondue fuel is
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