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Fundamentals of Combustion

Charles J. Lippert Air Quality Technician Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Department of Natural Resources and Environment

What is COMBUSTION?

The sequence of exothermic chemical reactions between fuel and oxidant accompanied by release of energy in form heat and/or light during conversion of chemical species

CHEMICAL REACTION TYPES

exothermic

exo- ([sends] out) -therm- (heat) -ic (type [of reaction that])

endothermic

endo- ([takes] in) -therm- (heat) -ic (type [of reaction that])

TYPICAL FUEL TYPES

Carbon [C]

Charcoal, coal, peat, soot (carbon black)

Hydrocarbon gasses/liquids

Natural gas (methane [CH4]), propane [C3H8], butane [C4H10], kerosene [C6H14 ~ C16H34], heating oil [C14H30 ~ C20H42]

Hydrocarbon solids

Dry cellulose (corn, wood, wood pellets) Unfortunately too often: creosote, polymer plastics

But often fuels have other chemicals / compounds mixed in (either naturally or by design)
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TYPICAL OXIDANT TYPE

Oxygen
nitrogen (N2) oxygen (O2) argon (Ar) carbon dioxide (CO2) neon (Ne) helium (He) methane (CH4) krypton (Kr) etc. 780,840 ppmv 209,460 ppmv 009,340 ppmv 000,380 ppmv 000,018.18 ppmv 000,005.24 ppmv 000,001.79 ppmv 000,001.14 ppmv 78.084% 20.946% 00.9340% 00.0380% 00.001818% 00.000524% 00.000179% 00.000114%
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Common source of oxygen is air, which is


REACTORS IN YOUR HOME FOR CONVERSION OF CHEMICAL SPECIES (1)

REACTORS IN YOUR HOME FOR CONVERSION OF CHEMICAL SPECIES (2)

THE FIRE TRIANGLE

IDEAL CHEMICAL CONVERSION (methane example)


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CH4 + 2O2

CO2 + 2H2O
Total Energy (out)
7 8 9 10 11

Potential Energy

20 15 10 5 0 1 2 3 4 5 Reaction time 6

Energy (in) Energy (out) Final Point of Stability

Initial Point of Stability

Point of Instability (Ignition)

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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?

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BUT CHEMICAL CONVERSION USUALLY IS NOT IDEAL


2CH4 + 3O2 2CO + 4H2O CH4 + O2 C + 2H2O S + O2 SO2 N2 + 2O2 2NO2 N2 + O* NO + N* N* + O2 NO + O* N* + OH- NO + H+
etc.
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OTHER UNWANTED PRODUCTS

Metals

Mercury [Hg], Magnesium [Mg], Aluminum [Al], Nickel [Ni], Cobalt [Co], Uranium [U], Lead [Pb] Iron [Fe] and iron oxides [FeO, Fe2O3, Fe3O4] Sodium [Na], Silica [Si], Calcium [Ca], Sulfur [S8], Potassium [K] Volatile Organic Compounds [VOCs] Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons [PAHs]

Non-metals

Organics

too often, all as PM2.5


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TYPICAL CARBON MONOXIDE [CO] LEVELS


Concentration Source

7,000 ppm

Undiluted warm car exhaust without a catalytic converter

5,000 ppm
100 ~ 200 ppm 5 ~ 15 ppm 0.5 ~ 5 ppm 0.1 ppm

Exhaust from a home wood fire


Heavy urban vehicular traffic Near properly adjusted gas stoves in homes Average level in homes Natural atmospheric level
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MINIMIZE COMBUSTION BYPRODUCTS BY


Ventilate exhaust to the outdoors Ensure good access to fresh air Tune-up combustion appliances Burn only the designed fuel Burn clean fuels when possible Minimize total combustion

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HEALTH EFFECTS OF COMBUSTION BYPRODUCTS


Asthma Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Chronic bronchitis Emphysema

Pneumonia
Asphyxiation Cancer

Death
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SOME ONLINE RESOURCES

US EPA BurnWise http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/ Chemistry of Fire http://sfpe.discoveryeducation.com/site/ Wikipedia (for a quick review) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combustion

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