Chem Connections

Controlling Combustion Emissions

Combustion Image

spects of atmospheric chemistry are applied to the need for reduction in emissions as defined by the Clean Air Act. Students learn about thermodynamics and thermochemistry through a series of class sessions with cooperative learning exercises. Laboratory sessions reinforce the ideas learned in class.

3 (3-4 hr) labs, 9 class sessions

Prerequisites: none
Initial Testing: Spring '96
Tool Kit: Energetics
Topics: stoichiometry, gas phase equilibria, thermochemistry, thermodynamics
Interdisciplinary aspects: atmospheric science, environmental chemistry, public health (risk benefit analysis)
California State University Los Angeles:
Wayne Tikkanen,
Frank A. Gomez


This module will encompass about 3 weeks (at about 3 hours of class time per week) including 2 or 3 laboratory periods. An introduction to atmospheric chemistry and the Clean Air Act will define the problem (emissions that must be controlled) and the tools that will be needed to examine it. The classroom phase will examine thermochemistry and thermodynamics to determine the effect of fuel mixture on combustion temperature and then the effect of temperature on the position of equilibrium between nitrogen, oxygen and nitrogen monoxide. The module offers the possibility of presenting students with multi-skill problems which require the application of several concepts and to be used as an in class cooperative learning exercise. Cooperative learning experiences will be utilized in the class sessions on regular basis, with two such experiences planned for every three sessions. Examples of multi-skill problems that could be used are: estimation of the temperature of the gas mixtures formed from different air-fuel mixtures (stoichiometry, gas laws and thermochemistry); the different equilibrium amounts of NO formed from nitrogen and oxygen at different combustion temperatures, and calculation of the amounts of sulfur oxides emitted by burning fuels with differing sulfur contents. The results of these projects will be viewed by the class as a whole. Most projects over the course of several sessions and the cumulative results will be displayed.

Materials to be developed

Multimedia Materials

  • Computer-based presentation
  • Interactive presentation of fuel-smog relationships company

Standard Materials

  • Textual material for class sessions
  • Cooperative learning worksheets
  • Laboratory Exercises

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Last modified: 10/18/00 at 11:54 AM