Where Are Combustion Reactions Used?

Combustion reactions have a variety of uses including the burning of fuel that provides heat for the home or power for an automobile. Combustion of natural gas or propane gives the heat to cook one's food. Combustion of waste products powers generators while reducing the volume of the material to more manageable sizes.

Organic combustion reactions involve an organic material, the fuel and oxygen. The products of the reaction are carbon dioxide and water, and the reaction releases energy in the form of heat or light. Inorganic combustion reactions do not always produce all the products but always involve oxygen.

Rapid combustion reactions often result in a fire. In addition to providing heat, they power internal combustion engines and provide the energy for thermobaric weapons. Combustion reactions that release a large amount of gas create excess pressure and loud noises in an explosion. However, some combustion reactions take place on a much smaller scale. Cellular respiration combines oxygen and fuel to create water and carbon dioxide but does not create enough heat to cause a fire.

With a complete combustion reaction, there is enough heat and oxygen to reduce all the fuel. However, combustion reactions are not all complete. Incomplete reactions create additional products including carbon monoxide, a deadly gas.