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•  Carbon dioxide is produced by the combustion of biomass and fossilised organic matter


carbon combustion

When organic compounds rich in hydrocarbons are heated in the presence of oxygen, they undergo a combustion reaction

  • This reaction is exergonic (produces energy) and releases carbon dioxide and water as by-products
  • The carbon dioxide is typically released into the atmosphere, increasing the concentration of the gas in the air

Combustion of Propane  =  C3H8 + 5
O2    3 CO2 + 4 H2O + energy

Complete Combustion of a Hydrocarbon


Combustion Sources

1.  Fossil Fuels

Organic compounds can become rich in hydrocarbons when compacted underground for millions of years

  • The heat and pressure over time triggers a chemical transformation that results in the compaction of the organic matter
  • The resulting products of this process are fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas)
  • Because this geological process takes millions of years to occur, fossil fuels are a non-renewable energy source

2.  Biomass

An alternative to relying on fuels produced by geological processes is to manufacture fuels from biological processes

  • Living organisms produce hydrocarbons as part of their total biomass (either for use or as a waste product)
  • These hydrocarbons can be extracted and purified to produce an alternative fuel source (e.g. bioethanol and biodiesel)
  • Provided new raw materials are provided and waste products are removed, this source of energy is renewable

Producing Renewable Energy From Biomass