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Art and Science Combustion via Art

Volume 1 - Issue 4

Abraham Tamir*

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    • Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

    *Corresponding author: Abraham Tamir, Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel

Received: September 14, 2017;   Published: September 26, 2017

DOI: 10.26717/BJSTR.2017.01.000395

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Combustion, burning or fire is the sequence of exothermic chemical reactions between fuel and an oxidant accompanied by the production of heat and conversion of the chemical species to new ones. Combustion supplies most of the energy required by human civilization where the visible result is fire and flames usually consisting of hot gases and light. The phenomenon of fire is mentioned already in the Bible in Genesis 15:17 as follows:”When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passes between the pieces.” Probably the earliest reasonably scientific attempt to explain combustion was that of Johannes Baptista van Helmont (1580-1644), a Flemish Physician and Alchemist. He observed the relationship among a burning material, smoke and flame and said that combustion involved the escape of a “wild spirit” from the burning material. In 1667, Johann Joachim Becher (1635-1682), a German alchemist and physician, proposed the phlogiston theory. According to it there exist fire-like elements called “Phlogiston” that is contained within combustible bodies and are released during combustion. The theory was an attempt to explain processes such as combustion and the rusting of metals, which are now understood as oxidation. It was the great French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794) who rejected traditional thinking and framed a new definition of combustion that was widely accepted.

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