Sometimes energy needed for chemical plants comes from burning all sorts of combinations of
hydrocarbons. You are conducting an audit on a company and need to determine the average
composition of the fuel that they have been burning. They report that they supply oxygen in 20%
excess of that required to burn the fuel completely. Their data sheets show that on average, the
chemicals leaving their furnaces are 72.0% carbon dioxide, 2.57% carbon monoxide, 0.0592%
sulfur dioxide, and 25.4% oxygen, as a molar composition, but when you question them about
the lack of water (where would the hydrogen go?), they agree that there is water in the furnace
exit, but they do not keep track of it, because the humidity in the air can cause errors in their
measurements. (From an analysis standpoint, this means that they have “subtracted” the water
from the “denominator” of their mole percent calculations – that’s how the percents of the other
four chemicals add up to 100% still.) Assuming there is zero additional oxygen in the fuel
sources themselves, determine the elemental composition (in mole percent of the various atomic
components) of the fuel.
Please help. I don’t understand how to do atomic balances and I don’t know what to do with the H atoms and water.