Water on a magnesium fire


Water on a magnesium fire


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64 Comments

  1. This is why industries try to work closely with local fire depts/emergency personnel, so their responses don’t make the situation worse. I.e. the industries help provide funding/training for specific scenario/response drills, specialized equipment (foam trucks, specialized fire suits), etc.

    You wouldn’t want to pour water on a sodium fire or water on an oil tank on fire or go into a facility that does fluorination chemistry without a proper suit with SCBA.

  2. Reminds me of this quote from *Ignition!*:

    > Chlorine trifluoride, ClF3, or “CTF” as the engineers insist on calling it, is a colorless gas, a greenish liquid, or a white solid. It boils at 12° (so that a trivial pressure will keep it liquid at room temperature) and freezes at a convenient —76°. It also has a nice fat density, about 1.81 at room temperature.
    >
    > It is also quite probably the most vigorous fluorinating agent in existence— much more vigorous than fluorine itself. Gaseous fluorine, of course, is much more dilute than the liquid ClF3, and liquid fluorine is so cold that its activity is very much reduced.
    >
    > All this sounds fairly academic and innocuous, but when it is translated into the problem of handling the stuff, the results are horrendous. It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that’s the least of the problem. It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water —with which it reacts explosively. It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals — steel, copper, aluminum, etc. —because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride which protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminum keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere. If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes. And even if you don’t have a fire, the results can be devastating enough when chlorine trifluoride gets loose, as the General Chemical Co. discovered when they had a big spill. Their salesmen were awfully coy about discussing the matter, and it wasn’t until I threatened to buy my RFNA from Du Pont that one of them would come across with the details.
    >
    > It happened at their Shreveport, Louisiana, installation, while they were preparing to ship out, for the first time, a one-ton steel cylinder of CTF. The cylinder had been cooled with dry ice to make it easier to load the material into it, and the cold had apparently embrittled the steel. For as they were maneuvering the cylinder onto a dolly, it split and dumped one ton of chlorine trifluoride onto the floor. It chewed its way through twelve inches of concrete and dug a threefoot hole in the gravel underneath, filled the place with fumes which corroded everything in sight, and, in general, made one hell of a mess. Civil Defense turned out, and started to evacuate the neighborhood, and to put it mildly, there was quite a brouhaha before things quieted down.
    >
    >Miraculously, nobody was killed, but there was one casualty — the man who had been steadying the cylinder when it split. He was found some five hundred feet away, where he had reached Mach 2 and was still picking up speed when he was stopped by a heart attack.
    >
    > This episode was still in the future when the rocket people started working with CTF, but they nevertheless knew enough to be scared to death, and proceeded with a degree of caution appropriate to dental work on a king cobra. And they never had any reason to regret that caution. The stuff consistently lived up to its reputation.

    I am no where near insane enough to work near shit like that.

  3. Anyone do an analysis on the ratio of pixels in this video that turned a solid #FFFFFF? Would be curious to find out.

  4. Every high school chemistry lab ever: “heat the magnesium strip over a bunsen burner, but **DO NOT** look directly at it until it stops glowing”

    And of course everyone peaks at it

  5. How much of this is actually how it looked and how much is the camera failing to adjust to the instant burst of light quick enough?

  6. the end is like you’re looking at stars then suddenly they all just start falling and the milky way galaxy becomes really vivid

  7. Probie was so excited for his first fire that he didn’t realize it was a vehicle fire in an old VW Beetle.

  8. I was once on a fire party on a Navy Submarine Tender where a lathe bed full of magnesium chips was merrily burning. We went in in the Aluminum suits and shovels and dumped it out the cargo hatch that was conveniently about 25 feet from the lathe. It made merry boomings when each shovel full hit the water.

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