What is Combustion?
Combustion means the action and effect of completely burning or burning a certain matter. The word comes from the Latin combustio and combustioni with the same meaning.
From a scientific point of view, combustion is described as a rapid oxidation process from which energy is released in the form of heat. This process can generate light (flames) or not.
Combustion is present in everyday life. For example, in the kitchen and fireplaces that use fire, in the mobilization of machinery and the automotive fleet (internal combustion engines), etc.
For combustion to be possible, the presence of specific factors is necessary: a fuel, an oxidizer or oxidizer and heat in high proportions.
The fuel is formed of material containing carbon and hydrogen. However, eventually the fuel may contain sulfur. Some known combustible materials are coal, natural gas, wood and petroleum derivatives such as gasoline, plastic, among others.
The substance oxidant or oxidizer is usually oxygen, but not in pure form but in a proportion of 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen, which is the basic composition of the air. Also other substances can function as an oxidizer. For example, fluorine.
As for the heat unleashed by combustion, the temperature must reach a minimum degree of heating so that the fuel can react. This degree is called the flash point or flash temperature.
The amount of energy or heat that is released from the combustion will depend on the qualities and characteristics of the materials in combustion, so that the results are variable.
Every combustion process generates products. The most important are: carbon dioxide, carbon and water vapor.
There are different types of combustion depending on the conditions of the oxidation process. Let’s see.
Complete or perfect combustion
It occurs when the components are completely oxidized, resulting in the formation of carbon dioxide, liquid water, or sulfur dioxide.
It occurs when the combustion is not absolute, but the oxidation of the substances is partial and leaves matter unconsumed, which is called unburned. For example, carbon monoxide.
It is also called neutral combustion. It can only be produced artificially in scientific laboratories. In this type of combustion, an exact amount of air is used to avoid the presence of oxygen in the resulting gases. It is said to be theoretical or ideal because some particles always persist.