Burning, otherwise known as combustion, is an important chemical reaction. It is the state, process, sensation, or effect of being on fire, burned, or subjected to intense heat. The act of combustion often results in a fire, which contributes greatly to the world as it gives out energy and light. There are six different types of burning: rapid, slow, complete, incomplete, turbulent and microgravity. Combustion is made according to the following formula: Fuel + Oxygen? Carbon Dioxide + Water + Energy/Burning. It is a complex chemical sequence of exothermic reactions, in which a substance reacts rapidly with oxygen and gives off heat. Combustion is made when a fuel burns in oxygen, accompanied by heat or both heat and light. The original substance, the fuel, can be a solid, liquid, or gas and the source of oxygen; the oxidizer could also be a solid, liquid, or gas.
New substances called oxides or exhaust are made as to the fuel burns and come from chemical combinations of the fuel and oxygen. The temperature of the exhaust is high because of the heat that is transferred to the exhaust during combustion. Because of the high temperatures, oxides usually occur as a gas, but there can be liquid or solid exhaust products as well. Heat is also released as a result of burning. Burning comes out in the form of either a glow or flames, the appearance of light flickering. You can make this chemical reaction by rubbing two sticks together. It is because the fuel is usually a hydrocarbon, an organic compound made entirely of carbon and hydrogen and sticks work perfectly well for that. The oxygen is always around us. The heat than can be made by friction between the rubbings of the two pieces of wood. You can control or stop the combustion process by controlling the amount of fuel available, the amount of oxygen available, or the source of heat.
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Whenever burning combines with methane, this chemical formula occurs: CH4 + 202? CO + 2H20 +Energy. Methane originally is CH4 and most of the molecules in the above equation are in a gaseous form. One molecule of methane combined with two oxygen molecules react to form a carbon dioxide molecule, and two water molecules are usually given off as steam or water vapour during the reaction and energy. The chemical reaction of burning is important to the world because basically, it makes fire. Fire is a tool for cooking, defence, and security, a survival tool. It gives warmth and light. When you unharness it, it can bring destruction and aids in wars and battles. Combustion fulfills the important role on Earth of being the source of fire, as said before; and it enables human beings to keep warm, cook or just to survive. Also, burning is one of the sources when producing energy like electricity. The world and our lives would be very different if we did not have this chemical reaction.
Combustion affects us strongly in every way: without burning or fire, stoves cannot cook our dinners; rockets cannot lift off into space; camps would not have the classic campfire anymore; winters won’t be warm etc. There are many benefits of combustion to different people of the world. For example, burning is important to tribes who live in rainforests and plains of South America and Africa. They use fire to cook their food and keep warm, as they do not have a chance to use modern technology to do basic survival tasks. Therefore, burning is a big aid to them. However, combustion also has a few limitations. Fire can be really dangerous to children if they got hold of matches. Also, fires can be caused easily if people are not careful in factories, homes, offices etc. Thus, fire is generally dangerous if not handled well.
The act of burning can relate to many issues of the world, and one of them is the environment. Fires can recycle nutrients in the soil of forests: they release the nutrients bound up in litter and woody debris on the forest floor. The act of burning also reduces woody fuels to ash and consumes the organic layer of the soil. Some of the nutrients are lost to the atmosphere as smoke but combustion also releases many nutrients into the soil. This “flush” of nutrients is then available to plants that re-establish in burnt areas. This function of fire is useful to country parks where the rates of decomposition and nutrient cycling are low. However, burning needs to occur in forests and country parks before being able to help the forest soil. Forest fires, the creation of combustion, wipe out many trees in the process of burning.
Therefore, the trees: homes to animals, creators of oxygen and takers of carbon dioxide, are lost. Also, the act of combustion contributes to global warming by producing smoke and greenhouse gases, especially when burning a large amount of fuel. The act of burning is probably one of the most important chemical reactions in the world. Although it can bring severe damage to both the environment and human beings, it benefits everyone at the same time by giving energy. Therefore, burning is a good example of a chemical reaction that is important in the real world.
- Wikipedia (n. d.), Combustion, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combustion [Accessed 26 March]
- Wikipedia (n. d.), Methane, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methane [Accessed 2 April]
- Tom Benson (July 11, 2008), Combustion, http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/combst1.html [Accessed 28 March]
- Scootwhoman (n. d.), WikiAnswers: Is fire more important than the wheel?, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_fire_more_important_than_the_wheel [Accessed 27 March]
- Fire and Disturbance Ecology (2009-03-12), http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/plan/plan8c_E.asp#tphp [Accessed 27 March]
- Charles E. Orphardt (n. d.), Combustion of Fossil Fuels, http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/511natgascombust.html [Accessed 2 April]
I have found this reaction interesting because, in real life, I have always come in touch with the act of burning, like when we used the Bunsen burner in-class experiments. However, I have never truly understood how fire worked or how it aided and harmed the world. Therefore, I took advantage of this essay to research this simple everyday chemical reaction to learn more about it. Although the first impression of burning doesn’t seem as attractive as other reactions like fireworks or apple browning, it was still as interesting once you have extensively searched for information about it.