The combustion of fossil fuels to produce heat energy involves basically the reactions of forming gaseous carbon dioxide from the combustion with oxygen of solid carbon or liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons, carried out irreversibly. If these reactions can be carried out reversibly, the amount of useful work energy obtainable is theoretically nearly three times that now normally obtained from the same reactions of combustion to form the same quantity of gaseous carbon dioxide.

The present paper summarizes the thermodynamic considerations pertaining to the problem of carrying out the reaction of combustion in a reversible manner so that the maximum quantity of useful work energy may be recovered. Tabular data are presented on the properties of ideal fuel cells using hydrogen, carbon monoxide, propane, and solid carbon as fuels.


La combustion des carburants fossiles en vue de produire de l'énergie sous forme de chaleur inclut fondamentalement les réacions, conduites irreversiblement, de formation de l'anhydride carbonique à partir de la combustion avec l'oxygène du carbone solide ou des hydrocarbures gazeux ou liquides. Si ces réactions pouvaient etre menées de facon reversible, la quantité d'énergie de travail pratique qu'on pourrait obtenir, serait théoriquement trois fois celle que l'on peut obtenir normalement à partir des mêmes réactions de combustion conduisant à la formation de la même quantité d'anhydride carbonique gazeux.

Le présent article résume les considérations thermodynamiques visant an problème de mener les réactions de combustion d'une maniere reversible de facon à obtenir la quantité maximum d'énergie de travail pratique. On présente un tableau classifiant les propriétés des piles à combustible idéales en utilisant comme combustibles l'hydrogène, l'oxyde de carbone, le propane, et le carbone sous forme solide.


The problem Looking back into history, we see that the control and development of energy have accompanied almost every important advance in science and technology.

Records indicate that the technological advancement of a country may be measured in terms of its production and consumption of energy. Over the past 50 years, the total quantity of energy consumed in the United States per year has about tripled. During this half century, the ratio of the energy produced by petroleum (including natural gas) and by coal has changed from about 1 to 10 to about 3 to 1. Today, the use of all energy in the United States, expressed in terms of its equivalence of petroleum, is nearly 2,000 gallons of crude petroleum per person per year.

Fossil fuels (coal, petroleum, and natural gas) account by FREDERICK D. ROSSINI, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, U.S.A. for about 95 percent of the energy produced in the United States today. It appears that the natural supply of petroleum and gas

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