Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
NOVA Online (see text links below)
Fire Wars
Candle flame On Fire

Welcome to On Fire, a virtual fire lab.

Whenever molecules rearrange their atoms during a chemical change, energy is either released or absorbed. How much energy depends on how fast the atoms rearrange themselves. When iron rusts, for example, oxygen in the air combines with iron atoms. This reaction is known as oxidation. The reaction releases energy, but because the oxidation rate is so slow, the temperature of the rusting area increases just slightly—only by about one degree F.

Under certain conditions, though, the oxidation rate of some materials can be very fast and generate a great deal of heat. If this heat cannot dissipate faster than it is created, then combustion results.

To find out more about combustion, select one of the following.

Printer-Friendly Format   Feedback

The Producer's Story | The World on Fire | Outfitting Wildland Firefighters
How Plants Use Fire | Glossary of Fire Terms | Wildfire Simulator | On Fire
Resources | Transcript | Site Map | Fire Wars Home

Search | Site Map | Previously Featured | Schedule | Feedback | Teachers | Shop
Join Us/E-Mail | About NOVA | Editor's Picks | Watch NOVAs Online | To Print
PBS Online | NOVA Online | WGBH

© | Updated June 2002

 

Support provided by

For new content
visit the redesigned
NOVA site

Shop Teachers Feedback Schedule Previously Featured Site Map Search NOVA Online Fire Wars Site Map