Premixed hydrocarbon–air flames invariably show two separate reaction zones. In the primary zone, the combustible gas mixture burns principally to carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and water, and in the outer mantle, or secondary diffusion flame, the hot gases burn with atmospheric oxygen to carbon dioxide and water. Teclu [ J. Prakt. Chem. 44, 246 ( 1891)] and Smithells and Ingle [ Trans. Chem. Soc. 61, 204 ( 1892)] independently demonstrated the existence of these two zones in various premixed hydrocarbon–air flames, using the flame separator. This device consists of a wide glass or silica tube fitted over the bunsen type burner to form an extension above the inner burner port. The primary combustion then occurs at the inner burner port, while the pale blue secondary diffusion flame is maintained at the top of the outer glass tube. An alternative method of separation of premixed hydrocarbon–air flames consists of sheathing the flame with an inert gas to lift off or separate the secondary diffuson zone. The interconal zones of flames separated by these methods are extended in length and exhibit very low radiative background. The interconal zone also contains the hottest part of the flame, and can be viewed without interference from radiation produced in a secondary diffusion zone that would normally surround it in separated flames. It is the hot interconal zone of premixed flames that is most frequently employed in analytical flame photometry, because it is in this region that the greatest population of atoms occurs when elements are introduced into the flame by nebulization of solutions of their salts. Thus, separated flames may be employed with advantage in thermal emission, atomic absorption, and atomic fluorescence spectroscopy. This paper describes the separation of the air–acetylene and nitrous oxide–acetylene flames, and some applications of these flames in analytical flame spectroscopy.
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