The Combustion of Hydrocarbon Fuels. 朱 信 Hsin Chu Professor Dept. of Environmental Engineering National Cheng Kung University. 1. Introduction.
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The key to the development of mankind was the discovery of how to manage the combustion process; in other words, the ability to initiate combustion when required and to control and apply the resulting fire.
There are three significant applications- the generation of power, the provision of heat for processes and the provision of heat for control of the built environment.
The development of combustion equipment for heating building followed a path of increasing efficiency and improving amenity: primitive “plant” consisted of an open, central solid fuel fire with the flue consisting at best of a central opening in the roof.
Combustion is a chemical reaction between a fuel and oxygen which is accompanied by the production of a considerable amount of heat (it is an exothermic reaction).
The reaction has to be initiated by some source of high-temperature energy (ignition).
The most obvious characteristic of the combustion process is the reaction zone, which is usually visible as a flame; the radiation emitted from the flame may be very intense, for example the characteristic yellow color of an oil flame, or it may be quite weak as in the case of the flame from a gas hob on a cooker.
Complete combustion has been achieved when no further reaction takes place- all the carbon in the fuel appears in the flue gases as carbon dioxide (CO2) and all the hydrogen in the fuel is burned to water (H2O).
As an illustration of the combustion reaction in the case of a simple but common gaseous hydrocarbon we can look at the combustion of methane (CH4).
StoichiometryAt the same temperature and pressure, equal volumes of gases contain equal numbers of molecules. This means that the reaction CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2Oalso shows that one volume of methane requires just two volumes of oxygen to produce complete combustion.