Lavoisier’s Theory of Combustion


Lavoisier’s Theory of Combustion
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was born in Paris at 1743. He attended the College Mazarin from 1754 to 1761, studying chemistry, botany, mathematics and astronomy. Lavoisier was called “the father of modern chemistry”.
In 1777, Lavoisier determined the composition of sulphuric acid by heating it with mercury. When sulphur dioxide was evolved and then strongly heating the salt (mercuric sulphate), when it decomposed into mercury, sulphur dioxide and oxygen. He concluded that “volatile sulphurous acid is a vitriolic acid partially deprived of oxygen”.
In a memoir “On Combustion in General”, Lavoisier presented his new theory of combustion:
1. In every combustion there is disengangement of the matter of fire or of light.
2. A body can burn only in pure air (oxygen gas)
3. There is “destruction or decomposition of pure air” and the increase in weight of the body burnt is exactly equal to the weight of the air “destroyed or decomposed”.
4. The body burnt changes into an acid by addition of the substance which increases its weight.
5. Pure air is a compound of the matter of fire or of light with a base. In combustion, the burning body removes the basewhich it attracts more strongly than does the matter of heat and sets free the combined matter of heat, which appears as flame, heat and light.
In 1782, Lavoisier says Concordet had proposed the name “vital air” for pure air, but in memoir which published in 1781 entitled “General considerations on the nature of acids and on the principles composing them”, Lavoisied called the base of pure air the “acidifying principle” or “oxigine principle”, which he later changed to “oxygene”, derived from the Greek “όξύς” (acid) and “γείνομαι” (I produce). Pure air being called “oxygen gas”.

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