Combustion is an exothermic process in which heat/energy is given out. The combustion process takes place with the help of oxygen a substance that reacts with the oxygen and gives off energy.
The substance which takes part in the combustion reaction is called fuel. This fuel maybe is in the form of solid, liquid, or gas.
Variety of fuels we use at our home for multiple purposes. Used in cars, home. Fuel can be anything like wood, coal, charcoal, petrol, diesel, CNG and even cow dung. Oil and natural gas are widely used and contain hydrocarbons.
These are all are known fuels and are combustible substances.
However, it can be complete combustion or incomplete combustion.
A combustion process is generally divided into two types:
- Complete Combustion: No Residue
- Incomplete Combustion: Residue left behind.
If there is sufficient oxygen is available in the process of combustion and no residue left behind then this is called complete combustion.
Whereas, if there is no sufficient oxygen is available during the process of combustion, residue will be left behind and this called incomplete combustion.
During the process of incomplete combustion, it produces toxic gases that become a reason for breathing problems. carbon monoxide gas and minute carbon particles in the air cause breathing problems.
Have you ever observed? the pressure cooker we use to cook food items often has a black bottom. This is all because of incomplete combustion. A residue of black ash and small carbon particles left behind and stick at the bottom of the cooker. On touching it makes fingertips stained.
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Why Combustion is an Exothermic Process
During the process of combustion, a new substance is formed. This can happen only if a chemical reaction takes place between two or more substances. As an example, a piece of paper and oxygen are two substances that together react with each other with the help of fire (heat). When this reaction usually feels hot because it is heat is given out and there is a rise in the temperature of the surroundings. This justifies combustion is an exothermic process.
Moving further, we eat food regularly and that food is basically fuel to our body. The respiration process takes place in which the food is broken down into small minute parts with the help of oxygen. The outcome of this process is carbon dioxide and heat. It is also an exothermic process.