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A fuel is a substance that can be combusted or burnt to release energy as a byproduct. The energy can be in the form of heat, light, electricity, sound etc. This energy can be harnessed to power machines or used for other purposes such as heating or lighting. Combustion is the burning of fuel with energy released as a byproduct. Fuel is a very important substance for the existence of a modern man. Examples of fuels include petroleum products (petrol, diesel, fuel oil, kerosene, spirits, etc), natural gas, coal, wood, charcoal, producer gas, water gas, etc.

A good fuel burns easily to produce a large amount of energy. Fuels differ greatly in quality. There are certain characteristics, which make a good fuel. After all, there is no fuel among the different fuels known that posses all the virtues that a good fuel should have. Generally, a good fuel has the following;

(a) It should be environmentally friendly (not harm the environment) in the course of its production and use, that is, it should not produce harmful or toxic products such as much smoke, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxides, etc, which pollutes the air.

(b) It should not emit or produce dangerous by-products such as poisonous fumes, vapour or gases.

(c) It should have high calorific value i.e. it must burn easily and produce a tremendous quantity of heat energy per unit mass of the fuel.

(d) It should have high pyrometric burning effect (highest temperature that can be reached by a burning fuel). Normally gaseous fuels have the highest pyrometric effect as compared to liquid and solid fuels.

(e) It should have a moderate velocity of combustion (the rate at which it burns) to ensure a steady and continuous supply of heat.

(f) A good fuel should have an average ignition point (temperature to which the fuel must be heated before it starts burning). A low ignition point is not good because it makes the fuel catch fire easily, which is hazardous, while high ignition point makes it difficult to start a fire with the fuel.

(g) A good fuel should have a low content of non-combustible material, which is left as ash or soot when the fuel burns. A high content of no-combustible material tends to lower the heat value of the fuel.

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