THE slow combustion of hydrocarbons in general takes place by a kinetic process which Semenov1 described as a chain reaction showing 'degenerate branching'. According to this conception, the hydrocarbon is first oxidized to a moderately stable intermediate, which itself oxidized to the final products, namely, carbon monoxide, water, etc. Thus a stationary concentration of the intermediate is built up during the reaction, which reaches a maximum at the time of maximum velocity. According to Semenov's conception, the intermediate is responsible for the starting of new chains by an alternative reaction with oxygen, and a delayed or degenerate branching results.
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NORRISH, R., PATNAIK, D. Effect of Light on the Combustion of Hydrocarbons. Nature 163, 883–885 (1949). https://doi.org/10.1038/163883a0
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