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Stoichiometric Combustion
Stoichiometric combustion and excess of air
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Stoichiometric or Theoretical Combustion is the ideal combustion process where fuel is burned completely.

A complete combustion is a process burning all the carbon (C) to (CO2), all the hydrogen (H) to (H2O) and all the sulphur (S) to (SO2).

With unburned components in the exhaust gas such as C, H2, CO, the combustion process is uncompleted and not stoichiometric .

The combustion process can be expressed:

[C + H (fuel)] + [O2 + N2 (Air)] -> (Combustion Process) -> [CO2 + H2O + N2 (Heat)]


C = Carbon

H = Hydrogen

O = Oxygen

N = Nitrogen

To determine the excess air or excess fuel for a combustion system we starts with the stoichiometric air-fuel ratio. The stoichiometric ratio is the perfect ideal fuel ratio where the
chemical mixing proportion is correct. When burned all fuel and air is consumed without any excess left over.

Process heating equipment are rarely run that way. "On-ratio" combustion used in boilers and high temperature process furnaces usually incorporates a modest amount of excess air -
about 10 to 20% more than what is needed to burn the fuel completely.

If an insufficient amount of air is supplied to the burner, unburned fuel, soot, smoke, and carbon monoxide exhausts from the boiler - resulting in heat transfer surface fouling, pollution,
lower combustion efficiency, flame instability and a potential for explosion.

To avoid inefficient and unsafe conditions boilers normally operate at an excess air level. This excess air level also provides protection from insufficient oxygen conditions caused by
variations in fuel composition and "operating slops" in the fuel-air control system. Typical values of excess air are indicated for various fuels in the table below.

if air content is higher than the stoichiometric ratio - the mixture is said to be fuel-lean
if air content is less than the stoichiometric ratio - the mixture is fuel-rich

Excess air of different fuels

Example - Stoichiometric Combustion of Methane - CH4

The most common oxidizer is air. The chemical equation for stoichiometric combustion of methane - CH4 - with air can be expressed as

CH4 + 2(O2 + 3.76 N2) -> CO2 + 2 H2O + 7.52 N2

If more air is supplied some of the air will not be involved in the reaction. The additional air is termed excess air, but the term theoretical air may also be used. 200% theoretical air is
100% excess air.

The chemical equation for methane burned with 25% excess air can be expressed as

CH4 + 1.25 x 2(O2 + 3.76 N2) -> CO2 + 2 H2O + 0.5 O2 + 9.4 N2

Excess Air and O2 and CO2 in Flue Gas

Approximated values for CO2 and O2 in the flue gas as result of excess air are estimated in the table below:

Excess Air Carbon Dioxide - CO2 - in Flue Gas (% volume) Oxygen in Flue Gas for all
% Natural Gas Propane Butane Fuel Oil Bituminous Coal Anthracite Coal fuels (% volume)

0 12 14 15.5 18 20 0
20 10.5 12 13.5 15.5 16.5 3
40 9 10 12 13.5 14 5
60 8 9 10 12 12.5 7.5
80 7 8 9 11 11.5 9
100 6 6 8 9.5 10 10

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Related Topics
Combustion - Boiler house topics - fuels like oil, gas, coal, wood - chimneys, safety valves, tanks - combustion efficiency

Related Documents
Optimal Combustion Process - Fuels and Excess Air - Stable and efficient combustion conditions require correct mixture of fuels and oxygen
Boiler Efficiency - Boiler efficiency - combustion gross and net calorific value
Heating Fuels - Comparing Costs - Cost comparison formulas for heating fuels like Natural Gas, Propane LP Gas, Fuel Oil and Electricity

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1/31/2018 Stoichiometric Combustion
Fuels - Combustion Air and Flue Gases - Combustion air and flue gas for common fuels - coke, oil, wood, natural gas and more
Fuels Flue Gases and Average Dew Points - Flue gas dew point temperatures for typical fuels
Methane - Chemical, Physical and Thermal Properties of Methane - CH4
Oxygen - Chemical, Physical and Thermal Properties of Oxygen - O2

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