Toxic Petrol Smoke

OK, time for some chemists to make themselves useful!

With a good few hundred square miles of England currently buried under smoke from a huge petrol depot fire
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Hertfordshire_Oil_Storage_Terminal_fire

what substances ought we to expect in the smoke?

The stuff burning is "largely hydrocarbons", but that black smoke doesn't look too much like CO2 and H20 to me! (since neither of those are black!)

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the majority of the stuff will be C (elemental amorphous carbon from incomplete combustion or destructive distillation of the paraffins), some CO[sub]2[/sub], H[sub]2[/sub]O and CO; NO, NO[sub]2[/sub], and N[sub]2[/sub]O[sub]5[/sub] are largely produced in the combustion chamber of internal combustion engines under extremes of T and P; they are unlikely to be produced from heptane burning in the open. There should also be some lighter alkanes as a result of unauthorized cracking of the paraffins in the gasoline.

I hope the get the fire out with minimum damage to the environment. :(

btw CO is a reducing agent, so it will spontaneously convert to CO[sub]2[/sub] in the air 2 CO + O[sub]2[/sub] > 2CO[sub]2[/sub].

There is always a small percentage of Co in the atmosphere at any time. In a garage hemoglobin (or haemoglobin if you prefer) has a greater affinity for CO than for O[sub]2[/sub] and thus binds more effectively with CO than oxygen resulting in death (CN works pretty much the same way). But with CO you get bright red lips and cheeks, so it is a nice looking corpse.

[quote="Martin17"]the majority of the stuff will be C (elemental amorphous carbon from incomplete combustion or destructive distillation of the paraffins), some CO[sub]2[/sub][/quote]
I said all those 8)
(Elemental C = soot :))

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