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Fuel consumption and CO2 What is the issue

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Auto$mart Learn the facts: Fuel consumption and CO2 What is the issue? For an internal combustion engine to move a vehicle down the road, it must convert the energy stored in the fuel into mechanical energy to drive the wheels. This process produces carbon dioxide (CO2). What do I need to know? Burning 1 L of gasoline produces approximately 2.3 kg of CO2. This means that the average Canadian vehicle, which burns 2 000 L of gasoline every year, releases about 4 600 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. But how can 1 L of gasoline, which weighs only 0.75 kg, produce 2.3 kg of CO2? The answer lies in the chemistry! ÎThe short answer: Gasoline contains carbon and hydrogen atoms. During combustion, the carbon (C) from the fuel combines with oxygen (O2) from the air to produce carbon dioxide (CO2). The additional weight comes from the oxygen. ÎThe longer answer: Gasoline is composed of hydrocarbons, which are hydrogen (H) and carbon (C) atoms that are bonded to form hydrocarbon molecules (CXHY). Air is primarily composed of nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O2). A simplified equation for the combustion of a hydrocarbon fuel may be expressed as follows: Fuel (CXHY) + oxygen (O2) + sparkgwater (H2O) + carbon dioxide (CO2) + heat In this combustion reaction, we see that the hydrogen from the gasoline combines with oxygen from the air to produce water (H2O). Similarly, the carbon from the fuel combines with the oxygen from the air to produce carbon dioxide (CO2). The combustion process also produces heat that is converted into the mechanical energy that propels the vehicle. So it’s the oxygen from the air that makes the exhaust products heavier. Now let’s look specifically at the CO2 reaction. This reaction may be expressed as follows: C + O2 g CO2 Carbon has an atomic weight of 12, oxygen has an atomic weight of 16 and CO2 has a molecular weight of 44 (1 carbon atom [12] + 2 oxygen atoms [2 x 16 = 32]). Therefore CO2 is 3.67 times heavier than carbon (44 ÷ 12 = 3.67). This is how 1 L of gasoline, which contains about 0.63 kg of carbon, can produce about 2.3 kg of CO (3.67 × 0.63 kg = 2.3 kg). 2

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