38 Impressive Bunsen Burner Facts For Budding Scientists

Christian Mba
Oct 13, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Mar 23, 2022
38 Impressive Bunsen Burner Facts For Budding Scientists

A Bunsen burner is a device that combines air with gas to produce a controlled hot flame.

It was named after a German chemist named Robert Bunsen in the year 1855. Bunsen burners can be seen mostly in laboratories.

The Bunsen burner is seen in every school laboratory as a standard piece of equipment. Although Robert Bunsen did not completely create the Bunsen burner, it was named after him as he is credited with popularizing and improving the invention.

His assistant Peter Desaga also helped create this ingenious invention. The Bunsen burner was created to be used as a burner lamp in laboratories.

The Bunsen burner was the most popular burner created at that time, due to its simple and inexpensive design. It contains either a natural gas flow or liquefied petroleum gas. All bunsen burners are made up of the same components.

A Bunsen burner has five major components: a stand, a barrel, air holes, a gas intake, and a gas valve. A Bunsen burner flame's primary functions are to sterilize or heat equipment that causes chemical reactions.

The Invention History Of The Bunsen Burner

Robert Bunsen was a professor at the University of Heidelberg. After being inconvenienced by a usual gas burner producing large amounts of soot during an experiment, he decided to make a burner with an even flame igniting that was easier and safer to use.

They took inspiration from Michael Faraday's and R. W Elsner's designs and steadily reinvented them.

His main goal in creating this burner was to avoid soot when the flame was ignited.

Although previous scientists had used similar ideas, Robert Bunsen and his assistant, the university mechanic Peter Desaga were the first to successfully create a gas burner that would burn hotter with a non-luminous flame and no soot.

Peter Desaga proposed the idea of creating a prototype, which aided in the development of the Bunsen burner we see today.

He created the rough designs for the cylindrical burner and instructed his assistant to create it.

Robert Bunsen and Peter Desafa created 50 bunsen burners for the university laboratory during its opening.

Robert Bunsen discovered two new elements, Caesium (Cs) and Rubidium (Rb) while developing the Bunsen burner in 1860 and 1861, respectively.

Two years after its invention, Robert Bunsen put out a report that drew attention from various different researchers. This resulted in the Bunsen burner's current popularity.

Robert Bunsen also used the Bunsen burner to further his own research.

His report also helped him gain the support of many of his colleagues, who in turn started using the Bunsen burner for their own research and experiments.

The Bunsen burner can now be found in every school laboratory around the world.

The Components Of A Bunsen Burner

A Bunsen burner has various components to work effectively. These components are:

The Barrel: The barrel is the most noticeable part of a Bunsen burner. It is the part from which the flame emerges.

The Air Hole: The air hole is a core component of the Bunsen burner, which then allows the airflow to mix with gas and functions as an air inlet.

The Collar: The collar is a tube made up of metal, that controls the amount of oxygen that mixes with the gas flow by either opening or covering the hole.

Rubber Tubing: In a laboratory, it is a portion of tubing that links the Bunsen burner to the gas lines. The rubber tubing also helps connect the gas nozzle.

Gas Regulator: It regulates the gas stream allowed. This in turn is used for regulating the flame of the Bunsen burner.

Needle Valve: The needle valve controls the size of the flame accordingly. The needle valve is connected to the base.

Base: The base is the foundation of the Bunsen burner. The base is heat resistant and is considered to be the safest part of the Bunsen burner.

You will find a Bunsen burner in every school and university laboratory.

Features Of A Bunsen Burner

The Bunsen burner flame can reach temperatures of up to 2,732 F (1,500 C). The average flame temperature of a Bunsen burner flame is 2,372 F (1,300 C).

A Bunsen burner can use a variety of types of gas, such as methane, butane, and others.

The Bunsen burner comes in various sizes that can be selected according to the intended use.

They are also widely available in most laboratories.

The Bunsen burner burns with an inner flame and an outer flame. The inner cone burns with a blue flame, while the outer cone burns with an almost colorless flame. This happens when the gas is oxidized by the air.

The inner blue flame is the hottest part of the flame, while the outer colorless flame is the coldest. The inner flame reaches up to a temperature of 2,732 F (1,500 C).

A Bunsen burner is found in most school laboratories, placed underneath a tripod that supports other apparatuses.

With insufficient amounts of air, the flame produced by a Bunsen burner is seen as luminous and wavering.

With sufficient amounts of air, the flame produced by a Bunsen burner is non-luminous.

How does a Bunsen burner work?

In a laboratory, the Bunsen burner is connected to a gas tube, which supplies the gas flow. There is a fuel gas flow into the base of the Bunsen burner when the gas jet is open. Here is more on how a Bunsen burner works.

The needle valve regulates the volume of gas that enters the Bunsen burner tube.

There is air intake into the tube because of the air holes.

The air intake differs based on the size of the air holes. The volume of air that mixes with the gas stream influence the combustion reaction.

A smaller volume of air creates an incomplete and cooler reaction. Whereas, a larger volume of air creates a hotter more complete reaction.

If the air holes are not open, the gas is unable to mix with the air inlet and thus mixes with the ambient air. If this occurs due to combustion, it creates a yellow flame or a safety flame. The safety flame is considered dirty due to the carbon layer that it forms.

A striker, match, or spark lighter can be used to light the flame.

To light the flame, the needle valve must be turned counterclockwise. The needle valve is able to adjust the size of the flame accordingly.

After this, a striker is used to form a spark, which results in a flame. If done correctly the flame is non-luminous.

Variations Of The Bunsen Burner

There are different variants of the Bunsen burner with similar designs and functions. Some of them are the Teclu burner, alcohol burner, Meker burner, and Tirril burner.

Teclu Burner- The Tecclu Burner was named after a Romanian chemist named Nicolae Teclu. It is a variant of the Bunsen burner that is able to achieve higher flame temperature. The Bunsen burner and teclu burner both have air holes.

The teclu burner has a conical element at its base, which allows it to regulate the air inflow. This results in a hotter flame. It is typically used for glass working.

Alcohol Burner- An alcohol burner is used in place of a Bunsen burner when natural gas is not readily available. It uses methanol, denatured alcohol, or isopropanol as fuel. It typically produces a weaker flame compared to a Bunsen burner. An alcohol burner can be made using metals like aluminum, steel, or glass.

Tirril Burner- The Tirril burner is used as opposed to the Bunsen burner, as it has a more continuous flame. Francis Preston Venable invented the Tirril burner in 1887.

A Tirril burner is able to adjust both the airflow and gas flow, unlike a Bunsen burner. Tirril burners can operate on both natural and synthetic gas. Airflow adjustment is available.

Meker Burner- The Meker burner is a modification of the Bunsen burner invented by M.G. Meker in 1905. M.G.

Meker designed this variant because he desired a burner with a higher flame generation. The Meker burner has a flame temperature that is 482 F (250 C) higher than the Bunsen burner. The Merker burner has a large outer cone as well as multiple smaller blue cones, which makes its flame hotter than a Bunsen burner.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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