The Chemistry of Lighters

Introduction
I chose to research BiC lighters for my project. BiC lighters are small devices that ignite a flame using isobutane gas. I chose to research lighters because I find it interesting that a force of nature such as fire could be fit into such a small device and predictably harnessed. I chose BiC lighters specifically because they are the highest quality lighters.
Composition of ...

The parts of a BiC lighter are made mostly of metals and plastics. The body and base are both made of polyacetal plastic created by injection molding. The ball put into the base before it is welded to the body to seal the fuel reservoir is made out of carbide steel. The fork spring and flint spring, which shut off the jet and push up the flint respectively, are made out of spring steel. The valve is separated into three smaller parts. The valve body, made of aluminum, contains the microporous membrane. The membrane controls fuel flow in the valve and an aluminum seal keeps it in place. To allow the fuel to flow, the jet moves it moves up and down. It is made of die cast metal. There is also a piece of synthetic rubber attached to the jet that closes to stop the flow of fuel. The fork, like the base and body, is made of polyacetal plastic created by injection molding. The return spring, made of spring steel, resides under the fork and keeps the valve closed when not in use. The sparkwheel is made of two serrated die cast cheeks and a serrated steel wire attached by resistance welding. The flint which, when rubbed together with the sparkwheel creates a spark, is made of ferrocerium. The fuel contained within the lighter is isobutane gas.


Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The two main components of a BiC lighter is the isobutane gas and the jet. The jet is made of die cast aluminum metal alloy. Die cast aluminum is rigid enough to stay in place but not so rigid that it could shatter. It is also much lighter than other alloys and has a melting point of 1150 degrees Fahrenheit. Isobutane gas is a form of butane with a changed molecular shape. It’s chemical formula is C10H4. It is used in lighters because it’s highly flammable and has relatively no dangers other than its flammability.

Chemistry's Role

The two main components of a BiC lighter is the isobutane gas and the jet. The jet is made of die cast aluminum metal alloy. Die cast aluminum is rigid enough to stay in place but not so rigid that it could shatter. It is also much lighter than other alloys and has a melting point of 1150 degrees Fahrenheit. Isobutane gas is a form of butane with a changed molecular shape. It’s chemical formula is C10H4. It is used in lighters because it’s highly flammable and has relatively no dangers other than its flammability.

Background Research

The parts of a BiC lighter are made in factories and refineries. They are made by refining various ores and combining them with each other to find the ideal mixture of the metals that will suffice for the lighter, such as heat resistance, and rigid but not brittle metal. The isobutane is chemically made specifically for its high flammability. A lighter works because each part his a specific purpose, often working in tandem with other parts of the lighter. The jets and valve close and open the fuel to let out the isobutane. The body, ball, and base all secure the isobutane in the lighter. The fork opens and closes the jet and valves. The sparkwheel lets off a spark that lights the isobutane.

Resources

www.bicworld.com/us/products/how-its-manufactured-lighters

used to find the various parts inside a BiC lighter and how they are used


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lighter

used to describe the process in which a lighter works such as the ignition and the expanded purpose of the different lighter parts


http://myweb.loras.edu/sw479308/MyWebPage.htm

used to describe the composition of the parts and the materials and methods used in their production


http://cameochemicals.noaa.gov/chemical/8744

in-depth analysis of isobutane gas, the dangers associated with it, and its chemical formula


http://www.thomasnet.com/articles/custom-manufacturing-fabricating/alloys-used-die-casting

used to describe strengths of die cast aluminum alloys compared to other die case alloys and to describe why it might be used


https://rbnenergy.com/you-can-just-iso-my-butane-isobutane-and-isomerization

used to explain the process of changing normal butane to isobutane through isomerization


http://thelibraryofmanufacturing.com/die_casting.html

used to describe the process and product of die casting
About the Author

James Spillman is a Junior at Billings Senior High
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