Chapter 4: Combustion and Flame

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Q
Combustion and Flame

Question:

Explain how CO2 is able to control fires.

Answer:

For fires involving electrical equipment and inflammable materials like petrol, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the best extinguisher. CO2, being heavier than oxygen, covers the fire like a blanket. Carbon dioxide control fire by cutting the contact between the fuel and oxygen. The added advantage of CO2 is that in most cases it does not harm the electrical equipment.  It can be stored at high pressure as a liquid in cylinders. When released from the cylinder, CO2 expands enormously in volume and cools down. So, it not only forms a blanket around the fire but also brings down the temperature of the fuel.

That is why it is an excellent fire extinguisher. Another way to get CO2 is to release a lot of dry powder of chemicals like sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or potassium bicarbonate. Near the fire, these chemicals give off CO2.

 


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