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Combustion when oxygen combines with a compound to form water and carbon dioxide.

Overview
A combustion reaction takes place when a fuel and an oxidizing agent, or oxidant, react, releasing energy in
the form of heat, and sometimes light. The most familiar processes of this type involve the burning of organic
materials containing carbon and hydrogen, which combine with oxygen in the air to form carbon dioxide and
water. Here the fuel is something like wood, gasoline or coal, and the oxidant is oxygen. Many other types of
combustion reaction are, however, possible. Reactions of this type are essential to life, and are exploited to
generate power, to provide heat, to run motorized vehicles, and in many other ways.

Fuel + Oxidizer Combustion products + Heat energy

e.g. burning naphthalene: CH
4
+ 2O
2
CO
2
+ 2H
2
O + heat
methane + oxygen carbon dioxide + water

Combustion can be fast or slow. If it is fast we commonly refer to it as burning. If it is slow then
depending on where it is occurring we could call it rusting or respiration.
Combustion occurs when something combines chemically with oxygen. The combination may be fast or
slow. In all cases energy is given out; the reaction is biothermic. In the case of rusting the energy
released may be so slow we dont even notice it.
It is the energy given out when digested foods are burnt in our body cells which gives them and our
body the energy to live. Respiration occurs in every cell of every living organism.
During combustion the elements in the fuel combine with oxygen from the air to form new chemical
compounds called oxides. For that reason combustion is also called oxidation.
Complete vs incomplete combustion
Incomplete combustion means burning in a lack of air.
When wood burns, carbon dioxide and water vapour are formed. The smoke we see is incompletely burnt
particles of wood or carbon. The ash that is left over is a collection of unburnt material and solid oxides
from other elements that were in wood.
Water is still produced but carbon monoxide and carbon are also produced. The carbon is released as
soot.
The natural gas we use in our heaters at home and in the bunsen is generally methane. Methane is a
hydrocarbon with the formula CH4.
The air hole on a bunsen determines if you have complete or incomplete combustion.
o OPEN: air is drawn into the chimney and ensures complete combustion.
o The gas can only mix with air at the mouth of the bunsen burner.
o Produces a blue flame which transfers more heat energy than the yellow flame.
Write the equation for incomplete combustion:
Carbon monoxide (CO) is poisonous. It cannot be seen or smelt. Haemoglobin normally reacts with the
oxygen from the air and transports the oxygen to where it is needed. Carbon Monoxide can react with
haemoglobin and prevent the haemoglobin reacting with oxygen so you basically suffocate from the
inside out. Because carbon monoxide is poisonous all heaters must be serviced regularly to ensure they
do not produce it.



Why is heat released?
Chemical reactions are changes in the structure of molecules. Such reactions can result in molecules attaching
to each other to form larger molecules, molecules breaking apart to form two or more smaller molecules, or
rearrangements of atoms within molecules. Chemical reactions usually involve the making or breaking of
chemical bonds. A chemical reaction does not change the nucleus of the atom in any way, only the interaction
of the electron clouds of the involved atoms.
A chemical reaction almost always involves a change in energy, conveniently measured in terms of heat. The
energy difference between the "before" and "after" states of a chemical reaction can be calculated
theoretically using tables of data (or a computer). For example, consider the reaction CH
4
+ 2 O
2
CO
2
+ 2 H
2
O
(combustion of methane in oxygen). By calculating the amounts of energy required to break all the bonds on
the left ("before") and right ("after") sides of the equation, we can calculate the energy difference between the
reactants and the products. This is referred to as H, where (Delta) means difference, and H stands for heat,
a measure of energy. H is usually given in units of kJ, or thousands of joules. If H is negative for the reaction,
then energy has been released. This type of reaction is referred to as exothermic (literally, outside heat, or
throwing off heat). An exothermic reaction is more favourable and thus more likely to occur.



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Instructions Practical 1: candle burning in a jar
1. Set up the apparatus as shown in the diagram. The gas jar should be placed over the lit candle on a
heatproof mat.
2. When the candle goes out, put a lid on the gas jar.
3. Test to see if the candle made water by adding a piece of blue cobalt chloride paper, test the sides of the
jar. If it turns pink, water is present.
4. Repeat steps 1-2. Now test to see if carbon dioxide was produced. Pour a little limewater into the gas jar.
Swill it around a little. If carbon dioxide is present, the limewater turns cloudy.

Instructions Practical 2: bunsen and watchglass
Step 1:
1. Place a watchglass on a gauze mat, on a tripod, over a bunsen burner.
2. Open the airhole on the bunsen fully. Light the bunsen and leave on for 30 seconds, then turn off.
3. Note what colour the bunsen flame was when lit. Note what the watchglass looks like afterwards.
Step 2:
1. Repeat step 1.
2. Close the airhole on the bunsen fully. Light the bunsen and leave on for 30 seconds, then turn off.
3. Note what colour the bunsen flame was when lit. Note what the watchglass looks like afterwards.