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Padraic McGrath

Do hydrogen & flourine ignite sans-oxygen?

I've read that hydrogen & flourine make a more powerful & efficient rocket propellant than Hydrogen & oxygen. That would indicate that a non-oxidized combustion is more powerful than one that's oxidized. I thought I was told combustion couldn't even occurr at all w/out oxygen-let alone be more energetic. I know there are other types of chemical reactions besides oxidation, but what kind of reaction is taking place here? I heardthe combo was rejected as rocket propellant, because the byproduct-hydroflouric acid-probably made it better for a dirty bomb than a rocket.

Yes, you do not need oxygen to get combustion. The confusion is in the words "oxidant" or "oxidizer," which are very suggestive of oxygen, but do not mean you have to use oxygen (the vocabulary shows you how oxygen is probably the most common oxidizer in chemical reactions... probably because our atmosphere is 21% O2).

There are various meanings of the word "oxidizer" but for combustion it means a chemical that accepts electrons in a heat and flame producing redox reaction (reducing/oxidizing).

In your fuel example, the hydrogen is oxidized, while the fluorine is reduced. Even in the absence of oxygen.


Totally correct unless you define "combustion" as producing H2O. It's semantics.


yes. flourine and chlorine, for example support combustion, as does oxygen.

Padraic McGrath:

So oxygen's function in combustion is not unique then. You say Flourine & chlorine are able to substitute oxygen in the fire triangle. I wonder if that means those 2 can support a form of life the way o2 does.

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