The autoignition temperature or kindling point of a substance is the lowest temperature at which it will spontaneously ignite in a normal atmosphere without an external source of ignition, such as a flame or spark. This temperature is required to supply the activation energy needed for combustion. The temperature at which a chemical will ignite decreases as the pressure or oxygen concentration increases. It is usually applied to a combustible fuel mixture.
When measured for plastics, autoignition temperature can also be measured under elevated pressure and at 100% oxygen concentration. The resulting value is used as a predictor of viability for high-oxygen service. The main testing standard for this is ASTM G72.
The time it takes for a material to reach its autoignition temperature when exposed to a heat flux is given by the following equation
where k = thermal conductivity (W/(m·K)), ρ = density (kg/m³), and c = specific heat capacity (J/(kg·K)) of the material of interest. is the temperature, in Kelvin, the material starts at (or the temperature of the bulk material), and is the heat flux (W/m²) incident to the material.
Autoignition point of selected substances
Temperatures vary widely in the literature and should only be used as estimates. Factors which may cause variation include partial pressure of oxygen, altitude, humidity, and amount of time required for ignition. Generally the auto-ignition temperature for hydrocarbon/air mixtures decreases with increasing molecular weight and increasing chain length. The auto-ignition temperature is also higher for branched-chain hydrocarbons than for straight-chain hydrocarbons.
|Substance||Autoignition point (°C)||Autoignition point (°F)||Note|
|Triethylborane||−20 °C||−4 °F|
|Silane||21 °C||70 °F||Or below|
|White phosphorus||34 °C||93 °F||Ignites on contact with an organic substance, melts otherwise|
|Carbon disulfide||90 °C||194 °F|
|Diethyl ether||160 °C||320 °F|
|Diesel or Jet A-1||210 °C||410 °F|
|Gasoline (Petrol)||247–280 °C||477–536 °F|
|Ethanol||363 °C||685 °F|
|Butane||405 °C||761 °F|
|Paper||218–246 °C||424–475 °F|
|Magnesium||473 °C||883 °F|
|Hydrogen||536 °C||997 °F|
For paper, there is considerable variation between sources, mainly because there are many physical variables over different kinds of paper, like thickness, density and composition; in addition, it takes longer for the combustion of paper to start at lower temperatures.
- Flash point
- Gas burner (For flame temperatures, combustion heat energy values and ignition temperatures)
- E659 – 78 (Reapproved 2000), "Standard Test Method for Autoignition Temperature of Liquid Chemicals", ASTM, 100 Barr Harbor Drive, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959
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- Autoignition Temperature of 100 Common Organic Chemical Compounds.