Monday, 20 August 2007

Science Sunday III: Better Living Through Chemistry (Thermite!)

This week's video is about thermite. What is thermite? It's white hot fun, that's what it is! A thermite reaction is when aluminum is oxidized by another oxidized metal (like rust). This produces, aluminum oxide, pure iron, and heat. A lot of heat. 4000 (F) degrees of heat.

Shall we watch a video?

When used in small amounts, thermite is very useful in welding, particularly in areas where it is difficult to lug more bulky welding equipment. Railroads use it extensively to weld together sections of rail. It's also used to weld together thick electrical wires. In WW2 it was used frequently as a quick and quiet way to disable enemy artillery - put a dab of thermite on the end of the artillery barrel, and it welds shut in seconds with no loud noises or explosion.

Of course, this is not an experiment for the kitchen sink. In fact, it's probably best not to try this one at home - this can be very dangerous if you do not take the appropriate safety precautions.

No comments: