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Chemical Energy in Welding-Related Processes. A small number of slides adapted from Prof. F. Lawrence’s Class Notes. Oxyacetylene Process. Acetylene… Density = 0.61 M.P = -81.8 ˚C Colorless, odorless. Produces 6300˚F or 3482 ˚C flame when combust in oxygen.

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Chemical Energy in Welding-Related Processes

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chemical energy in welding related processes

Chemical Energy in Welding-Related Processes

A small number of slides adapted from Prof. F. Lawrence’s Class Notes.


Oxyacetylene Process

  • Acetylene…
    • Density = 0.61
    • M.P = -81.8 ˚C
    • Colorless, odorless.
    • Produces 6300˚F or 3482 ˚C flame when combust in oxygen.
    • Percussion sensitive when stored under pressure.

Acetylene at first generated as needed because it couldn’t be stored under pressure. Later storage by adsorbing in acetone and sawdust allowed safe storage. Now stored in acetone and porous ceramic core.


Complete combustion

  • 2C2H2 + 5 O2 -> 4CO2 + 2H2O DH<0
  • Primary combustion:
  • C2H2 + O2 -> 2CO + H2 + DH
  • Secondary combustion:
  • 4CO + 2H2 + 3 O2(from air) ->
  • 4CO2 + 2H2O+ DH
  • Acetylene flame lit first with no oxygen.
  • Oxygen added - reducing (carburizing) flame.
  • More oxygen - neutral flame.
  • More (excess) oxygen - oxidizing flame.
  • Extinguish flame in reverse order…..

Combustion of C2H2


Combustion of C2H2

Hottest part of the oxy-acetylene flame just in front of inner cone (blue-white part of flame).

Flame Adiabatic Temperature?

Calculation for other combustible


Absolute hottest flame produced using a slightly oxidizing flame


Combustion Intensity

- Hydrogen has the

highest flame velocity

- Propane and butane

have the highest

heat of combustion

per volume

Acetylene does not have the highest heat of combustion (DH) nor the highest burning velocity (V) BUT it has the highest combustion intensity = V x H!


Safety when Using C2H2

  • Acetylene is explosive that its use is frequently prohibited in factories (e.g. Caterpillar….)
  • Acetylene in contact with Cu, Hg, and Ag with impurities creates Acetylides which are violently explosive and shock sensitive. THEREFORE, DO NOT use acetylene flames on alloys with more than 67% Cu, that is, don’t use acetylene to weld BRASS!

Oxy-Gas Welding

  • Make sure needle valves are closed.
  • Regulators are backed off.
  • Open main valves
  • Adjust pressure
  • Crack open acetylene needle valve.
  • Ignite,
  • Adjust flame.
  • Crack open oxygen needle valve.
  • Adjust flame.
  • Shut down in reverse order; finally, open needle valves to bleed off gases.

Oxy-Acetylene Welding

Oxy-acetylene welding is a two-handed process if filler metal is added. Many metals can be welded but the adjustment of the flame and the use of fluxes varies with the metal.

diffused heat source

Focused Heat Source

e.g. Laser Beam & Electron Beam


Diffused Heat Source

e.g. Oxy-acetylene & Gas Metal Arc


Diffused Heat Source

Oxy-Gas Cutting

  • Oxy-fuel (flame) cutting uses flames to bring the metal to the temperature at which it will react with an oxygen jet to burn the metal. No melting occurs!
  • Not all metals can be flame cut! Carbon steel can but stainless steel and aluminum cannot. The necessary conditions for successful flame cutting are enumerated above.
uncuttable alloy systems
Uncuttable Alloy Systems?

Oxy-Gas Cutting

  • Why not Stainless Steels?
    • High melting temperature oxide layers, Cr2O3
  • Why not Aluminum Alloys?
    • High melting temperature oxide layers, Al2O3
    • High thermal conductivity
  • Why not Titanium Alloys?
    • Oxygen and carbon pickup
  • Why not Copper Alloys?
    • High thermal conductivity
    • Possibility of Acetylide formation
  • Why not Cast Alloys?
    • Molten SiO2 layer covering kerf


  • The torch tip, oxygen pressure and travel speed must be properly adjusted.
  • Too slow - shuts down.
  • Too fast - too much drag, won’t cut completely through particualrly at edges.

Flame Cutting Operations

Cutting an edge preparation for welding

Stack cutting

aluminothermic welding
Aluminothermic Welding
  • For maximum efficiency, the magnetite thermite mixture should contain 23.7% aluminium and 76.3% iron oxide (mass percent).
  • Using hematite, iron (III) oxide, the themite mixture should contain 25.3% aluminum and 74.7% iron oxide (mass percent).
  • The reaction using Fe3O4 produces a substantially larger amount of energy/mole reaction. The reaction using Fe2O3 produces more energy/gram of thermite mixture.
  • Temperature is raised to 2000-2200oC.
safety of thermit welding
Safety of Thermit Welding
  • Thermite should not be used near flammable materials; small streams of molten iron released in the reaction can travel considerable distances and may melt through metal containers, ignite their contents, etc.
  • Flammable metals with relatively low boiling points such as Zinc should be kept away from thermite, as contact with such metals could potentially boil superheated metal violently into the air, where it could then burst into flame as it is exposed to oxygen. The boiling point of Zinc at 1665 °F (907 °C) is about 2500 °F (1371 °C) below the combustion temperature of thermite.
  • Thermite must be used with care in welding pipes or other items with air cavities, as thermal expansion of trapped gases may cause bursting.
  • Generally, the ignition of thermite should be timed so that individuals handling it have ample time to get away.
major thermite applications
Major Thermite Applications
  • Rail Joining
    • Competes against Flash Butt Welding
  • Rebar Joining
    • Competes against SMAW and FCAW
  • Steel Hull Plate Joining
    • Build aluminum superstructures so not top heavy
    • Used explosive bonding to bond the plates together
    • Get aluminum-steel transition
  • Potential Hazards
    • Get aluminum in the presence of rust, start of a thermit reaction
    • Aluminum will burn
      • Jet fuel ignited thermit reaction
    • Galvanic reactions?
other thermite applications
Other Thermite Applications
  • Military Applications
    • Thermate -TH3 is a mixture of thermite and pyrotechnic additives for incendiary purposes. Its composition by weight is generally thermite 68.7%, Ba(NO3)2 29.0%, S 2.0% and binder 0.3%.
    • Ba(NO3)2 increases its thermal effect, creates flame in burning and significantly reduces the ignition temperature.
    • Ames Process – an adaptation of the thermite reaction for obtaining pure Uranium (as part of the Manhattan Procject at Ames Laboratory).