Every burning object that you see around you, like a burning log of wood in the fireplace, burning flame of natural gas you observe on a stove and a burning candle is an example of a combustion reaction in action. Every kind of ‘Burning’ phenomenon in nature, which is accompanied with the release of heat energy is a combustion reaction. This article will help clarify your understanding of what is a combustion reaction.
Every chemical reaction involves a change in the chemical composition of reactants to provide products which are themselves different compounds formed from the rearrangement of atoms found in the reactants. It involves the breaking of old bonds and forming of new bonds. When a reaction is accompanied with the release of heat, it’s known as an exothermic reaction, while the one which involves absorption of heat, is known as an exothermic reaction. Let us explore the nature of a combustion reaction and see what type of chemical reaction it is. Check out the endothermic vs exothermic reaction examples to know more about them.
What is a Combustion Reaction?
Any chemical reaction which involves the combination of oxygen or any other oxidizing agent with other compounds and is accompanied with the emission of energy in the form of heat, is known as a combustion reaction. Ergo, all combustion reactions are essentially exothermic reactions. So all the combustion reaction examples presented below, could also be known as exothermic reaction examples. In the simplest words, all burning processes are combustion reactions.
When any kind of hydrocarbon (compound made up of Carbon and Hydrogen) fuel burns, it combines with oxygen to form compounds like Carbon Dioxide and water, it does so in varying proportions, creating many different products. Depending on the availability of oxygen and the composition of the burning fuel, many different combustion reaction products are created.
Any substance which can undergo a combustion reaction is known as a combustible substance. Most combustion reactions are accompanied with the emission of substantial amounts of heat, which cause the energy to be emitted in the form of light and flame.
Since there are various types of combustion reactions, there is no single combustion reaction equation to present. There are several such equations, which you will find listed in the next sections as examples.
Combustion Reaction Examples
There are as many examples of combustion reactions in nature as there are burning objects. One of the prime examples of combustion reactions is aerobic respiration, which happens within cells of the human body, to produce energy in the form of ATP molecules. Here are some of the prime combustion reactions, which you must have observed around you.
C10H8 (Naphthalene) + 12 O2 → 10 CO2 + 4 H2O + Heat
Here Naphthalene burns in oxygen to produce heat, along with carbon dioxide and water.
CH3OH (Methanol)+ O2 (Oxygen) → CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) + 2H2O (Water) + Heat
Here methanol burns in oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water, along with the emission of heat.
2Mg (Magnesium) + O2 (Oxygen) → 2MgO (Magnesium Oxide) + Heat
In the above reaction, Magnesium undergoes a combustion reaction, to produce Magnesium Oxide (MgO) and heat. Since combustion reactions are all exothermic reactions, they are used to provide energy for various purposes. Fire is combustion and it serves as the motive force which drives the engines of technology.
Thus the combustion reaction primarily involves the combination of oxygen or other such oxidizing agent, with other compounds, which generates a tremendous output of heat. You will study several more such reactions in chemistry. From the burning of fuel igniting in the car engine, to the reaction that causes the burning of hydrocarbons in a stove flame, our world is powered ahead by combustion reactions that release energy.