Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
BACKUP HEAT for HEAT PUMPS
BANGING HEATING PIPES RADIATORS
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BOOKSTORE - InspectAPedia
BTU USAGE MONITORS
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CIRCULATOR PUMPS & RELAYS
DIAGNOSTIC GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DIRECT VENTS / SIDE WALL VENTS
DRAFT REGULATORS, DAMPERS, BOOSTERS
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
FAN, AIR HANDLER BLOWER UNIT
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLUE SIZE SPECIFICATIONS
GAS BURNER Flame & Noise Defects
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GEOTHERMAL HEATING SYSTEMS
HEAT PUMPS, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS
HEATING OIL PIPING TROUBLES
HEATING OIL TANKS
HEATING SYSTEM NOISES
HEATING SYSTEM TYPES
GAS LP & NATURAL GAS SAFETY HAZARDS
MANUALS & PARTS GUIDES - HVAC
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
NOISE, HEATING SYSTEMS
ODORS FROM HEATING SYSTEMS
OIL FILTERS on HEATING EQUIPMENT
OIL FILL PIPE LEAKS
OIL SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION
PLASTIC Plexvent / Ultravent RECALL
PUFFBACKS, OIL BURNER
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
Reset Switch - Heater Primary Control
RESET SWITCH - ELECTRIC MOTOR
Reset Switch - Stack Relays
SAFETY, HEATING INSPECTION
SAFETY RECALLS CHIMNEYS VENTS HEATERS
SOLAR HEATING SYSTEM DESIGNS
SOOT on OIL FIRED HEATING EQUIPMENT
STEAM HEATING SYSTEMS
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
VIDEO GUIDES: Heating System Videos
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
ZONE VALVES, HEATING
Here, courtesy of aerospace engineer Herman Vogel, we provide a definition of Stoichiometric Combustion and we explain and give formulas for Theoretical Fuel to Air Ratios for Complete Combustion (Stoichiometric Combustion). Stoichiometric Combustion discusses theoretical fuel to air ratios for hydrocarbon fuels (kerosene, jet fuel, heating oil, LP gas, etc) in which a fuel is burned completely, producing only carbon dioxide and water, with no other byproducts.
Our sketch (page top) shows how an oil burner gun atomizes and sprays heating oil into the combustion chamber - Audel Oil Burner Guide
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
This article series answers most questions about central heating and water heating systems to aid in troubleshooting, inspection, diagnosis, and repairs. Contact us to suggest text changes and additions and, if you wish, to receive online listing and credit for that contribution.
Herman Vogel, Aerospace Engineer
In brief: Stoichiometric combustion is by thermodynamic definition the theoretical combustion of every drop of fuel when mixed with the correct amount of air (oxygen) to yield exhaust products of only CO2 and H2O.
Stoichiometric combustion is by thermodynamic definition the theoretical combustion of every drop of fuel when mixed with the correct amount of air (a basic mixture of oxygen and nitrogen gases) to yield exhaust products of only CO2 and H2O. However, such combustion is ideal and in reality doesn't occur since the burning in furnaces, automobiles and jet-engines is always incomplete and less than 100% due to engineering design limitations.
Therefore while our two ideal exhaust products are relatively benign, non-stoichiometric combustion rules in the real world. This results in burning rich, as no matter how much extra air we cleverly add, it is never able to chemically react with all the fuel. Hence the resultant unburned fuel gets exposed to the high combustion temperatures and chemically reacts to form additional exhaust products of CO (Carbon Monoxide) and NO (Nitric Oxide), which can be dangerous exhaust products to both people and the environment.
C12H26(l) + 37/2 O2(g) + 2(37) N2(g) → 12 CO2(g) + 13 H2(g) + 2(37) N2(g)
For the above chemical reaction to be complete, both sides of the equation (about the arrow) must have its chemical elements matched. So, if the left-side has 12 Carbon molecules, then the right-side must also have 12.
Note that we are using air which contains a weighted ratio of N2/O2 = 2x37 / (37/2) = 4 (100% air = 80% N2 + 20% O2), or four times as much Nitrogen exists in a given volume of air as does Oxygen.
Also, the above chemical reaction equation represents kerosene fuel which is considered a Dodecanese (liquid) hydrocarbon having the chemical formula C12H26.
That means it contains a molecular composition of 12-carbon atoms and 26-hydrogen atoms and is a liquid at room temperature.
Kerosene is the main constituent of Jet Propulsion (JP) fuels, where other additives include various blends of differently distilled crude oils.
The fuel to air ratio by chemical weight of the above relationship is:
This says that for complete combustion of typical hydrocarbon fuels, and in particular kerosene, we need 6.4 lbs. of fuel for every 100 lbs. of air that we burn. Clearly, on a relative basis, we need a lot of air to completely burn our small amount of fuel.
The beauty of the above chemical equation is that not only does it define the required fuel-to-air ratio, but it also provides us with:
Technical Note: The temperature above is in units of R (Rankin) not (F). If it were F (farenheit) we have 4,310R - 460R = 3,850F.
What Does Complete Combustion (Stoichiometric Combustion) Mean to the Heating System Designer?
The above three pieces of information helps the furnace designer to properly size combustion chambers and their air-fans, and to burn the correct amount of fuel to keep a home comfortable. It also helps the designer to choose the appropriate materials to avoid furnace melt-down. Note that the theoretical adiabatic flame temperature is very high.
While some of this temperature is reduced due to furnace heat losses, flame temperatures are generally controlled by intentionally burning lean. This dramatically reduces the theoretical flame temperature based on the lean chemistry of combustion, plus additional temperature reductions are realized by diluting high temperatures using the extra cold air entering the combustion chamber.
So, the furnace designer has a whole arsenal of possibilities to work with in designing today's reliable fuel oil furnaces.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about complete combustion of natural gas, LP gas, or home heating oil: the definition & explanation of stoichiometric combustion
Questions & answers or comments about heating oil or gas fuel combustion - perfect or stoichiometric combustion. .
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
Technical Reviewers & References