Heating Wood In Vacuum
Name: Delilah S.
What happens when you heat wood in a vacuum? No fire is
produced due to lack of oxygen in the atmosphere. Thank you.
The wood being predominantly cellulose has the generic chemical
It is a carbohydrate. Upon heating it would decompose into elemental carbon,
CO, CO2, H2O and a complicated tarry residue.
Heating the wood in a vacuum would not be all that easy because in the
vacuum the only method of heat transfer would be that of radiation from
the heat source and conduction through the wood itself. Wood isn't a very
good conductor of heat. In the absence of some kind of atmosphere (an
inert, oxygen-free gas, perhaps) there would be to convective pathway to
transfer the heat to the wood.
Nevertheless, assuming what you propose could be easily accomplished, the
wood would gradually degrade and liberate a host of complex volatile (and
combustible in air) compounds which would be immediately drawn off toward
the vacuum source. These come from the cellulosic and lignin parts of the
wood. When they were (mostly) all gone, what's left would be a very
high-grade and active form of charcoal.
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Update: June 2012