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I was thinking to myself, what would happen if you were to put a lump of wood in a zero oxygen environment and superheat it? It couldn’t burn because fire needs fuel, heat and oxygen however because wood is a mixture of cellulose + other things, it can’t really just melt... If this were done, what would really happen?

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    $\begingroup$ Pyrolysis $\endgroup$ – andselisk Mar 19 at 7:17
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    $\begingroup$ A crude version of this process is done to create charcoal. Piles of wood are structured so that burning some creates a great deal of heat in the centre of the pile but little oxygen. The centre of the pile pyrolises leaving charcoal. $\endgroup$ – matt_black Mar 19 at 9:54
  • $\begingroup$ Also a name for methanol was Wood spirit. And ants were distilled leading to formic acid. $\endgroup$ – Alchimista Mar 19 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ Similar: Can paper burn without oxygen or air? $\endgroup$ – ron Mar 19 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ @matt_black - indeed, and similarly turning coal into coke. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Mar 19 at 14:11