In gas welding, combustion can only take place if three conditions are satisfied:
- There must be a fuel. A fuel is a material that burns or combusts with oxygen to release energy. The hot gases produced by combustion form a flame. Most but not all fuels are hydrocarbons.
- Oxygen must be present. Oxygen is a chemical element with which most chemical compounds will combine in an exothermic reaction.
- Ignition is required for the fuel/oxidant mixture to ignite and produce a flame. The source of ignition may be a pilot flame, an electrical spark, a hot spot or a sudden pressure change. In the process of combustion, ignition causes a fuel to react with the process of combustion. Ignition causes a fuel to react with oxygen.
The products of complete combustion, in the case of hydrocarbon fuels, are oxides such as carbon dioxide and water, and a large amount of energy in the form of heat and light.
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