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Fuels and Alternatives

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A series of free IGCSE Chemistry Activities and Experiments (Cambridge IGCSE Chemistry).

Combustion of Fuels
Describe the properties of a good fuel
Ease of Ignition - Burns easily?
Energy Value - Produces a lot of energy?
Ash and Smoke - Burns cleanly?
Storage and Transport - Easy to store?

Complete vs Incomplete Combustion
Complete Combustion
• Hydrocarbon Fuel + Oxygen → Carbon dioxide + Water (+ energy)
• Enough oxygen
• Blue flame
• Hydrogen and Carbon oxidised
• More energy produced
• Produces greenhouse gases
• Increase global temperature by trapping more solar radiation
Incomplete Combustion
• Hydrocarbon Fuel + Oxygen → Carbon + Carbon Monoxide + Water (+ energy)
• Not Enough oxygen
• Orange flame + Soot
• Carbon not fully oxidised
• Less energy produced
• Produces greenhouse gases
• Increase global temperature by trapping more solar radiation
• Produces carbon that creates soot
• Produces carbon monoxide which is a poisonous gas

More issues with burning fuels
Some fuels contain sulfur which when burnt produces sulfur dioxide that causes acid rain
Solutions
1) Remove sulfur from fuels (costly)
2) Acid gas scrubbers - neutralise acidic gases in power stations
3) Catalytic Converters - clean up exhaust gases



Alternative Energy Resources
Bio Fuels
Advantages
• Renewable
• Easy to replace used crops quickly.
• Carbon neutral.
• Clean fuel.
Disadvantages
• Less land to grow food.
• Large storage space needed.
Ethanol (from sugar cane or sugar beet)
Advantages
• Gasohol means less crude oil used
• Carbon neutral.
• Clean fuel.
Disadvantages
• Less land to grow food.
• Requires suitable climate.
• Distillation needed after fermentation (uses energy).

Hydrogen Fuel Cell
Advantages
• No pollutants (just water).
• No recharging required.
• Very efficient (> 80%).
• Less energy lost through heat and friction.
Disadvantages
• Gases requires more storage space.
• Explosive - hard to store safely.
• Use electrolysis to obtain hydrogen (requires energy)

Measuring the energy content in fuels
Calorimetric Method


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