As you may know, most fire type attacks are based on high temperature flames shooting towards the opponent. But how are these flames produced, and could science eventually produce these kinds of special animals? Are there even logical explanations for this type of moves?
First, let’s define flames, and the origin of the hot temperatures involved. Fire is nothing else than a visible effect of a chemical reaction of a fuel with oxygen. The heat coming from a fire is nothing more than the energy released when breaking down molecules, and forming new ones. Though, for something to ignite, a minimum temperature must be present.
As an example, let’s use the burning of methane (CH4) gas. When releasing about 1 liter of this gas in a room with about 2 liters of oxygen, nothing is going to happen. The mixture will only ignite, when there’s, let’s say, a burning match thrown in. The room will show some signs of a fire being lit, and once the fire has died out, the room will be filled with carbon dioxide and water. So basically, almost every fire involves a fuel, oxygen and a minimum temperature. If one of these isn’t present, nothing will happen.
Now, how about applying this theory on fire Pokemon? For this explanation, a Charmander shall be used. Charmander is, as you may know, a lizard with a burning flame on the tip of his tail. Now the question arises: Where does a small creature get the 3 factors needed to create a fire?
Gasoline and the likes are nothing else but organic material decomposed to a black liquid. Normal day cows even produce some methane gas in their excessive amount of gas. So basically, if a Charmander could somehow turn his food into methane by some sort of advance assimilation, he could then use that as fuel.
This is the easiest in the one of the three. Oxygen can be commonly found in the air all of us breathe.
Now this is a bit difficult. How can such a small critter, or any of the fire using Pokemon, produce enough warmth to ignite the fuel they use? If the heat came from excessive body warmth, the problem would be, where would they get the large amounts of food in order to produce such a high temperature? One of the likeliest possibilities is the use of a catalyst. But what would that be? As far as present science goes, there is no catalyst for the ignition of the most organic materials. Another on is to changes the pressure by using a third lung.
But then another question arises, would it actually make a significant difference and is it even possible? Any significant difference? I doubt it. Possible? Most likely. However, no creature living on land known presently can take such high pressures inside its body. A third explanation is the use of static electricity to create a spark. Just like a car engine uses sparks to ignite a highly inflammable mixture of gasoline and air, our Charmander could use some sort of static electricity to do the same. Seeing as how Charmander resembles a lizard, he could have a scaled skin. If there’s enough friction, static electricity could build up, and with a bit of adjustments, a spark could be set off to in order to ignite the fuel.
As you may also have known, there’s also the type of fire attacks involving hot air being emitted. These are actually really easy to explain, and at the same time, this shall give one of the reasons why this kind of attacks fails to work in watery environments.
The answer is simple, if the temperature near the Pokemon’s body goes up; it emits heat (infrared radiation). The surrounding air then uses this heat to warm it itself up. If this is used long, or strongly, enough, the opponent would find the air to be a bit too warm. Though, these moves would actually fail quite often, let alone the fact that the Pokemon using it would be drained of a lot of stamina. In order to use this kind of moves, the airflow needs to be none existing, or blowing towards the opponent. If the wind direction changes, the attack would have its effectiveness decreases or rendered useless. Basically, it would be disadvantageous to use them.
As for the reason why warming up the surroundings fails in water, is because water can absorb way more energy before it warms up 1 degrees. The attacking Pokemon would use way too much energy to warm the water up, and ends up losing all its stamina. Simply put, it won’t work.
As far as this goes, creating a fire breathing lizard in real life comes a bit closer to fantasy. Is it realizable? Give it a few centuries, in order for genetic research to get to that point.
Thus, scientifically speaking, fire breathing can be proven to be executable, because the 3 elements can be put together. However, warming up the surroundings is a bit too hard, and would be rather stupid to use in real life battle. Maybe one day science shall find a solution for it, and most likely it shall be used for heating. But for now, it shall be a farfetched dream.