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Does Carbon Dioxide Burn?


Does Carbon Dioxide Burn?

Carbon dioxide does not burn.

More Info: Carbon dioxide is a non-flammable gas, but it is the byproduct of the burning of coal and other fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is a gas at atmospheric pressures and normal temperatures, and it occurs naturally in small amounts in the atmosphere of the earth. [1]

Carbon Dioxide Used to Extinguish Fires

Not only is carbon dioxide non-flammable, it is used to put out Class B and C fires.  Pressurized carbon dioxide in liquid form is used in fire extinguishers for putting out flammable liquid and electrical fires. The carbon dioxide blankets the fire displacing the oxygen fueling the fire.  It is also effective at cooling fuel as well. [2]

Carbon Dioxide in Respiration

Plants, algae and certain kinds of bacteria take energy from the sun and use it to manufacture carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. This process is called photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, oxygen is released as a waste product. The oxygen is then utilized by animals in respiration, and carbon dioxide is exhaled by them as a waste product creating a respiration cycle between these life forms. [3]

Other Uses and Sources of Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is also a byproduct of fermentation of sugars such as in alcohol production. It is also released from animal manures and in the exhaust of cars, trucks, and factories.

Frozen carbon dioxide is called dry ice. Dry ice is useful because it freezes at a temperature lower than water, and it does not produce water when it melts as the carbon dioxide returns to a gas state upon melting.

Carbon dioxide is also used for the carbonation of soft drinks and sparkling waters, and it is produced during the fermentation process of beer and champagne causing the bubbles in these beverages. [4]



[1] “Compressed Carbon Dioxide Gas & Liquid Carbon Dioxide.” Industrial Carbon Dioxide Supply: Liquid & Compressed Gas. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

[2] “Carbon Dioxide Extinguishers.” University of South Carolina. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

[3] “Photosynthesis-the Carbon Cycle.” Estrella Mountain Community College. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

[4] “Carbon Dioxide Properties, Uses, Applications, Co2 Gas and Liquid Carbon Dioxide.” Universal Industrial Gases Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Carbon Dioxide.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.
“Carbon Dioxide Microscale Gas Chemistry Experiments.” Microscale Gas Chemistry. Creighton University, n.d. Web. 29 June 2016.


Glossary of Terms

Carbon Cycle: the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged between the biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere of the Earth.
Science Daily

Class B Fire: Fire with flammable or combustible liquids as the fuel source.
University of North Carolina Greensboro

Class C Fire: Fire involving electrical equipment.
University of North Carolina Greensboro

Dry Ice: Carbon dioxide in solid form. It is a dense, colorless substance, resembling compressed snow, that at normal atmospheric pressure passes directly from solid to vapor at 109.3 °F (78.5 °C). Commonly available in blocks, it is used chiefly to keep foods, vaccines, and other perishable products cold during shipping or storage.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Fermentation:  The anaerobic conversion of sugar to carbon dioxide and alcohol by yeast.

Expert Opinion

“At room temperatures (20-25 oC), carbon dioxide is an odourless, colourless gas, which is faintly acidic and non-flammable.  Carbon dioxide is a molecule with the molecular formula CO2. The linear molecule consists of a carbon atom that is doubly bonded to two oxygen atoms, O=C=O.
Although carbon dioxide mainly consists in the gaseous form, it also has a solid and a liquid form.”
What Is Carbon Dioxide and How Was It Discovered    Lenntech

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