Hydrocarbon combustion describes the chemical reactivity wbelow a hydrocarbon reacts through oxygen to develop carbon dioxide, water, and also warmth. Hydrocarbons are molecules consisting of both hydrogen and also carbon. They are the majority of renowned for being the major constituent of fossil fuels, namely organic gas, petroleum, and coal. For this reason, fossil fuel resources are frequently described as hydrocarbon sources.

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<1> Energy is obtained from fossil fuels with combustion (burning) of the fuel. Although impurities exist in fossil fuels, hydrocarbon combustion is the major procedure in the burning of fossil fuel. An instance of hydrocarbon combustion is illustrated in Figure 1. See simulation at the bottom of the page for even more examples.


Figure 1. Methane combining with 2 oxygen to create carbon dioxide, water and warmth.<2>


1 Description


Regardmuch less of the type of hydrocarbon, burning with oxygen produces 3 products: carbon dioxide, water and warmth, as shown in the general reaction listed below. The energy required to break the bonds in the hydrocarbon molecules is substantially much less than the energy released in the formation of the bonds in the CO2 and H2O molecules. For this factor, the procedure releases significant quantities of thermal energy (heat). This thermal power can be supplied straight (possibly to heat a home) or else it can be converted to mechanical power, utilizing a warm engine. However, this is topic to efficiency losses, bring about essential considerable energy losses (as waste heat) governed by the second law of thermodynamics. The resulting advantageous mechanical power will be a lot much less than the initial thermal power provided by the hydrocarbon combustion.

General Reactivity Equation:

C_xH_y + N(O_2)leftrightarrow x(CO_2) + fracy2 (H_2O)x describes the variety of carbon atoms in the hydrocarbony describes the number of hydrogen atoms in the hydrocarbonN describes the variety of oxygen atoms compelled in the hydrocarbon burning reaction

Hydrocarbon Combustion and Fossil Fuels

Keep in mind that CO2 is always developed in hydrocarbon combustion; it doesn"t matter what form of hydrocarbon molecule. Producing CO2 and H2O is actually exactly how valuable energy is acquired from fossil fuels. For this reason, it is crucial to identify between carbon dioxide and also other "waste" assets that aincrease from impurities in the fuel such as sulfur and also nitrogen compounds.<1> Wastes that arise from impurities have the right to be eliminated through the appropriate technology; CO2 cannot be eliminated unmuch less the fossil fuels are not shed (used) in the first location.

Not all fossil fuels have actually the exact same composition. Natural gas is composed of over 90% methane (CH4) which is the smallest hydrocarbon molecule. Oil often tends to be written of medium sized molecules, although composition varies substantially from one grade of crude to the next. In general, the denser the oil, the much longer the carbon chains in the molecules. Finally coal contains the largest and the majority of complex hydrocarbon molecules.<1>

Due to the fact that various hydrocarbons have actually various ratios of hydrogen to carbon, they produce different ratios of water to carbon dioxide. In basic, the much longer and also even more complicated the molecule, the greater the proportion of carbon to hydrogen. For this reason, combustion of equal quantities of various hydrocarbons will certainly yield different amounts of carbon dioxide, depending on the proportion of carbon to hydrogen in molecules of each. Due to the fact that coal contains the longest and many complex hydrocarbon molecules, burning coal releases more CO2 than burning the exact same mass of oil or natural gas. This also alters the energy thickness of each of these fuels.

Carbon dioxide emissions

Below is a chart of the CO2 emitted from the production of 293.1 kWh (1,000,000 BTUs) of power from miscellaneous hydrocarbon fuels.

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Fuelkg of CO2 emissions
Anthrapoint out Coal104
Bituminous Coal93.5
Lignite Coal97.9
Subbituminous Coal97.4
Natural gas53.2

Combustion Animation

Choose a fuel from the drop down menu to check out the net reaction that occurs throughout combustion.