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Combustion of Hydrocarbon-Based Fuels

Carbon Monoxide, CO(g)


CO is formed from the incomplete combustion of the fuel in car
engines
It occurs when there is not enough O 2 present to form CO2 or when
the reaction takes place very quickly
For example: 2CH4(g) + 3O2(g) 2CO(g) + 4H2O(g)
CO poisoning occurs when CO binds to haemoglobin in the blood,
causing asphyxiation
Signs of low-level CO poisoning include headache, nausea,
dizziness, stomach pain and shortness of breath
Signs of high-level CO poisoning include vertigo, ataxia,
tachycardia, seizures and unconsciousness
Carbon Dioxide, CO2(g)
CO2 is formed when hydrocarbon fuels are burnt in a sufficient
supply of air
For example: CH4(g) + 2O2(g) CO2(g) + 2H2O(g)
CO is also converted into CO 2 by the catalytic converters found in
car exhaust systems which oxidise the CO. This is done by reacting
CO with NO to form CO2 and N2 with the aim of reducing pollution.
The equation is: 2CO(g) + 2NO(g) N2(g) + CO2(g)
Low concentrations of CO2 are not harmful
In high concentrations, effects are emotional upsets and fatigue.
Eventually, nausea, convulsions, coma and even death can result