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STOICHIOMETRY OF COMBUSTION

In the combustion reaction, oxygen reacts with the fuel, and the point where exactly all oxygen is consumed and all fuel burned is defined as the stoichiometric point. With more oxygen (overstoichiometric combustion), some of it stays unreacted. Likewise, if the combustion is incomplete due to lack of sufficient oxygen, fuel remains unreacted. (Unreacted fuel may also remain because of slow combustion or insufficient mixing of fuel and oxygen - this is not due to stoichiometry.) Different hydrocarbon fuels have a different contents of carbon, hydrogen and other elements, thus their stoichiometry varies. Gasoline engines can run at stoichiometric air-to-fuel ratio, because gasoline is quite volatile and is mixed (sprayed or carburetted) with the air prior to ignition. Diesel engines, in contrast, run lean, with more air available than simple stoichiometry would require. Diesel fuel is less volatile and is effectively burned as it is injected, leaving less time for evaporation and mixing. Thus, it would form soot (black smoke) at stoichiometric ratio. For gasoline, the stoichiometric ratio (by mass) is 14.7:1. Ethanol or E85, by contrast, is 9:1.
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