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- This article is about the chemical process. For the software, see Autodesk Combustion.
Combustion or burning is a chemical process, an exothermic reaction between a substance (the fuel) and a gas (the oxidizer), usually O2, to release heat. In a complete combustion reaction, a compound reacts with an oxidizing element, and the products are compounds of each element in the fuel with the oxidizing element. For example:
In complete combustion, the reactant will burn in oxygen, producing a limited number of products. When a hydrocarbon burns in oxygen, the reaction will only yield carbon dioxide and water. When elements such as carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and iron are burned, they will yield the most common oxides. Carbon will yield carbon dioxide. Nitrogen will yield nitrogen dioxide. Sulfur will yield sulfur dioxide. Iron will yield iron(III) oxide. Complete combustion is generally impossible to achieve unless the reaction occurs where conditions are carefully controlled (e.g. in a lab environment).