1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I drilled a 1.25" hole in some wood, and slotted thought some 1/4" x 1" A36 steel. There's 1/2" of space below. I then filled this up with thermite, around 50g.
    Metabunk 2018-03-02 12-03-47.

    Magnesium fuse worked better this time. I sanded it down to remove surface oxide which is supposed to help.
    Metabunk 2018-03-02 12-05-36.

    Metabunk 2018-03-02 12-06-44.
    (Auto darkening welding mask is very helpful here)

    Glowed for a few minutes after.
    Metabunk 2018-03-02 12-07-34.

    The bar came out with zero evidence of melting.
    Metabunk 2018-03-02 12-10-37.

    Now for the microscope.....
     
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  2. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    In the spheres that simply collected on the exposed horizontal surface of the bar, they seemed mostly to be of the bi-material "eyeball" type:

    Metabunk 2018-03-02 12-45-41. Metabunk 2018-03-02 12-46-12. Metabunk 2018-03-02 12-45-55. Metabunk 2018-03-02 12-46-40.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2018
  3. Jedo

    Jedo Member

    By crucible I meant some ceramic bowl or similar for your experiments, in order to catch all the products of the combustion.

    And for the nano-thermite, isn't that supposed to be super-thermite with magical capabilities? to be in the form of a sol-gel, so it could have been applied as - wait for it - paint or anti-corrosive protection?

    But I really think we do not have to bother in what containers the nano-thermite has presumably been attached to the columns as long as no one in the Truther camp suggests a plausible mechanism. Thus we could just assume it was put there in Russell's tea pot, which, I guess, shattered into a million pieces.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  4. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    This is thermite residue that I gathered off the ground, around the wood container, above.
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 12-20-26.

    Still lots of those large white spheres.

    Here's a larger (7mm across) blob of slag, with some microspheres attached. Also some "eyeball" microspheres adhering to the steel bar surface.
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 12-22-37.

    A closer look a the bottom right corner.
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 12-24-54.

    Here's the surface of a 2cm blob of slag
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 12-28-36.
     
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  5. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    The reaction of this type of thermite is:

    Fe2O3 + Al2-> Fe2 + Al2O3

    By mass it's approximately 1 part Aluminum to three parts Iron Oxide, giving about equal amounts (by mass) of Aluminum oxide and metallic iron.

    However iron has twice the density of aluminum oxide, so by volume there will be twice as much aluminum oxide.

    The slag is presumably a mixture of the two. The eyeball microspheres appear to be made of a larger volume of aluminum oxide (white) and a smaller quantity of iron (grey). The speration of the materials might be a function of being formed in the air from a burning spark. Surface tension may play a role.

    I suggest these eyeball microspheres are a signature of thermite combustion.
     
  6. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Here's 650g (about 1.5 pounds) of thermite in a pot. Inserted into the approximately 2.5" of thermite is a 1" square tube of 1/16" thick steel. The tube was just pushed into the thermite, so has thermite inside and out. Magnesium fuse (sanded).
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 15-40-10.

    Light fuse, retire to a safe distance
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 15-49-33.

    It took 15 seconds to melt through the "column".
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 15-53-30.

    The burn lasted about 30 seconds. The blob was red hot five minutes later.

    The pot I picked up at the local thrift store was sadly not up to the task, but did manage to hold things together, and none of the slag seemed to flow out the cracks.
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 15-55-30.

    A few minutes later, the bottom of the "column" is embedded in a still-red hot (but solid) blob of slag
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 16-13-17.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
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  7. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Breaking open the blob, the slag has a very porous bubbly state, like pumice.

    Metabunk 2018-03-03 16-51-47.

    Not much in the way of microspheres in this area. The iron all sank to the bottom of the pot and solidified in a disk shape (dense and strongly magnetic, so seems like solid iron). The bottom two inches of the steel tube seems to have totally melted away.

    Metabunk 2018-03-03 16-52-47.

    The microspheres ended up elsewhere. This is the portion of the tube above the thermite:
    Metabunk 2018-03-03 16-57-35.
     
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  8. JFDee

    JFDee Senior Member

    This nay be useful to indicate how a real thermite reaction result compares to the torch cuts seen in the 9/11 aftermath photos.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2018
  9. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Indeed, although this is just regular thermite, not super-thermite.

    There seem to be very few experiments along these lines. There's the classic set from Truther Johnathon Cole from a few years ago. He used the faster burning thermate, (Which Wikipedia says is made with 68.7% thermite, 29.0% barium nitrate, 2.0% sulfur and 0.3% binder ). Thermate still has the exact same iron/aluminum ratio. Unfortunately his video is very low resolution and it's hard to tell what kind of residue is there:
    Metabunk 2018-03-04 08-46-02.

    Here's one of the better close-ups. He used an arrangement of steel pipes filled with thermate on each side of the girder to burn it away. Metabunk 2018-03-04 08-46-56.

    Possible similarities here with the coating of white power which is aluminum oxide and iron microspheres.

    Metabunk 2018-03-04 08-50-42.

    Close up the white dust on my steel cut tube looks like:
    Metabunk 2018-03-04 09-02-46.
     
  10. Oystein

    Oystein Active Member

    What we see in your micrographs and photographs is that the alumina doesn't disappear as dust such that it can't be found and analysed - as Harrit and Jones claim. Very interesting to see the bi-material spheres, and also those that look like eyes, with a hole and/or cap on one side. It's actually not so very surprising: In bulk residue / slag, iron and Al-oxide can separate as they remain molten for a bit, long enough for different density to play out. Microspheres would cool and solidify a lot faster - within fractions of a second, and thus potentially fast enough to prevent total separation of the products.

    If anything, nano-thermite residue should have the two products even more intimately mixed, if the particles are also smaller than what you get.
     
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  11. Nada Truther

    Nada Truther Active Member

    Mick, How easy is it to clean the slag from the tube? Do you think that there should have been similar aftermath on the WTC steel? If it is easy to scrape off and leave fairly clean steel, then one might assume that the collapse of the towers would be enough to do the same to the building's steel. If it is difficult to remove enough traces of thermite residue, one could assume that it would be equally difficult for the steel in the WTC to come out so "clean" where there should be slag.

    Might be worth a test on your next test.
     
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  12. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I was attempting to repeat the success of the flowerpot test with a horizontal 1" x 1/4" bar
    Metabunk 2018-03-05 07-29-08.

    Unfortunate the container did not hold the thermite against the bar for long enough.
    Metabunk 2018-03-05 07-31-39.

    Metabunk 2018-03-05 07-33-25.

    But it gave another nice gradient for horizontal distribution of eyeball microspheres.

    Metabunk 2018-03-05 08-22-48.
    The cm scale here is from the approximate center of the combustion.

    This link goes to a very high resolution (43MB) version of the above:
    https://www.metabunk.org/sk/Can-bar_14cm-HD.jpg

    Detail around 6 cm
    Metabunk 2018-03-05 08-23-33.
     
  13. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    The white residue generally just brushes off. Microspheres are sometimes attached, but come off relative easily. Larger blobs of slag remain attached, but can often be removed with strong mechanical action (banging with a hammer, etc). You would certainly expect some large blobs around any "cuts". Even AE911 point at post-collapse oxy-cutting slag as being what they would expect to see from thermite. The famous angle cut column being the prime example.

    I think the more significant thing here is here is what you'd expect to find in the dust. You'd expect eyeball microspheres.
     
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  14. Nada Truther

    Nada Truther Active Member

    Do you or does anyone else remember hearing anything from AE911 about any findings of the removed steel having any of this slag residue or evidence of thermal cutting? Or it is just the beams that were left standing at ground zero? I say if there was never any found evidence of this on the steel that was removed from the pile, that must mean that none was cut with thermite or other. My thought earlier was that if the slag is cleaned off easily, that side could argue that there is no evidence on the removed steel because it was scraped off during collapse. Do your tests seem to indicate that it would be more obvious by looking at the cut line? Too early to tell?
     
  15. Nada Truther

    Nada Truther Active Member

    I would think with the total amount of thermite that would be necessary, the amount of eyeball microspheres (great name) would be pretty significant.
     
  16. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    By comparison, arc welding produces almost perfect iron microspheres, and nothing but iron microspheres.

    Bit of iron over a water bath. You can see some prior welding traces on the steel, but it's been scrubbed down to bare metal with a wire brush.
    Metabunk 2018-03-05 10-24-50.


    Result:
    Metabunk 2018-03-05 10-26-37.

    Some into a coffee filter, but the simplest thing to do was just to pour off the water and leave the residue in the bottom of the tray, let it dry in the sun. The ridges in the paint tray insert kind of act like gold panning. Even the smallest seem to sink to the bottom

    Metabunk 2018-03-05 10-27-42.

    The result is a wide variety of sizes of microspheres. The smallest of them are quite amusing little things, being actual spheres they roll around on a smooth surface - behaving very unlike your average bit of dust. The nicer ones have probably been rolling off my microscope slides!
     
  17. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Metabunk 2018-09-24 16-29-19.

    I bought some iron powder, thinking to simulate the "burning metal flakes" theory, but I neglected to look up how fine 320 mesh is. It's 53 microns. It does spark in a flame just fine, but it's tricky to catch the products as they are so small, they get carried away in the air. And of course it's magnetic, so hard to separate the microspheres from the powder.
     
  18. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Solution!
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 14-08-07.

    The above is a still from a video of the second gram of powder I dropped. Here's a before and after
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 14-11-36.

    Close up:
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 14-13-00.

    Here is some iron powder, lifted with some tape.
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 14-15-06.

    Here, to the same scale, is the resultant powder collected by the magnet
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 14-16-56.

    Close up

    Metabunk 2018-09-25 14-18-06.

    Notice the spheres are generally unconnected and very round. You can see the reflection of the microscope lens in each one (they are not all in focus, due to different sizes).
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 14-22-14.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2018
  19. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    So what this suggests to me is that clumps of iron powder behave in a very similar way to the steel wool. Super high ratio of surface area to volume means very easy combustion.

    The following comparison is not intended to indicate how much dust went into each sphere, just the relative sizes of the particles. With the spheres being larger than the specks of dust, there must either have been some combination, or the spheres are hollow.

    Metabunk 2018-09-25 14-44-13.

    (Note the yellow/white color cast, this is a function of the illumination, all the spheres are the same color)

    There's one object that looks like it might be two halves of a hollow spheres, somehow split in two, but it's hard to say.
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 14-47-23.
     
  20. Oystein

    Oystein Active Member

    When 1 mass unit of iron burns, you get >1 mass unit of iron oxide, depending on the degree of oxidation. At the same time, the specific mass of iron is higher than that of any and all of its oxides. An iron oxide particle of 1 mass unit is larger in volume than an iron particle of 1 mass unit, and an iron oxide particle of >1 mass unit is even larger.

    And this suggests a possible pathway to getting (if not spheres, then:) "roundish" shapes upon having metals or metal oxides react at temperatures less than melting points: As the particles of solid products change both mass and density, the spacial arrangement of the atoms/molecules must change; this will take place in an energetically preferred way - and that way always strives towards the sphere.
     
  21. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    A sense of scale. Here the lifted portion that came off the glass (with the magnet underneath, you can still see field lines).
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 15-00-59.

    Closer in you can start to see the spheres
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 15-02-30.

    Metabunk 2018-09-25 15-03-13.

    I used the Photoshop count tool on a typical area and got 100 in this red box:
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 15-08-01.
     
  22. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    A new contender, 50 Mesh iron filings.
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 16-23-30.

    Same setup, but with a white piece of paper under the glass for visibility:
    IMG_3459-Iron-Filings-Buildup.
    I'm sprinkling the iron filings off the right of this image, you can see lots of them fall short, more of the combusted sparks go past this area.

    Lifted some:
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 16-25-58.

    Result
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 16-26-44.

    First thing to notice is there are microspheres in the iron filings. There's also small specks of possibly whatever was used to abrade the steel/iron to make the filings. There's fewer new sphere than with the powder, and everything is smaller than the original powder. I suspect the smallness is simply due to large particles being essentially winnowed out, falling short.

    There are also more spheres than it appears at first glance.
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 16-31-35.
    However they are rougher in composition, which would indicate somewhat different microphysics.

    Still, the general point still stands, small flecks of iron in a flame = iron-rich microspheres.

    More generally I think we can probably say:

    Sparks = Microspheres
    Sparks made with steel = Iron-rich microspheres
     
  23. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Here's the dust and the filings at the same scale. There's a huge difference, and it might be interesting to see what happens with something sized in-between.
    Metabunk 2018-09-25 16-39-19.
     
  24. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Of academic interest - how pure iron spheres used to be made in the lab

    https://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.1746672
     
  25. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Going for completeness, I was looking at possible sources of iron powder — because it's a very good source of iron microspheres. One is hand warmers:
    Metabunk 2018-09-26 09-43-04.
    Metabunk 2018-09-26 09-44-02.
    Iron + Salty Water + Carbon + Vermiculite (holds the water) = Relatively rapid rusting.

    So if the contents were to burn in an open flame, iron microspheres would form.

    Of course this isn't likely to be present in the World Trade Center in any significant quantity. But it's possible there were a few that contributed. People don't just use them for skiing.

    What other sources of iron powder or iron filing might have existed in a pre-2001 office building?
     
  26. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Handwarmers confirmed:
    Metabunk 2018-09-26 10-19-58.

    Of note this is a USED handwarmer (used about 8 months ago). Meaning that the iron powder has already been substantially oxidized. A fresh handwarmer will produce a lot more spheres.
     
  27. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    Was iron plumbing pipe used in the Twin Towers' restroom sewage\sink drains, water stand-pipes, or fuel pipes ?
    If so, it was likely cut and installed "to-fit", on the building site for each restroom or other plumbing.
    Did they use power saws or torch cutters or grinders or power-saws or "chain type snap-cutters" for these duties ?
    (sorry if this was mentioned before.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2018
  28. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Excellent slow motion video of arc welding showing the microsphere formation is (at least in this video) initially from splattering liquid steel, and not not from burning sparks. Of course it's hot enough to burn. It's not burning here because it's MIG welding, meaning it's surrounded by an inert gas like CO2 or Argon. The spheres would likely ignite to some degree after leaving the inert gas region.


    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB9n9Mt68J0&feature=youtu.be&t=7
     
  29. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I gave a talk on this subject over the weekend at CSICon, and in the course of my research I found that flint strikers don't actually use flint! The small "flints" are actually a soft metal alloy called ferrocerium. This is approximately 20.8% iron, 41.8% cerium, 24.2% lanthanum, about 4.4% each of praseodymium, neodymium, and magnesium. So while the resulting spheres will certainly be iron rich, they would probably be quite different to a sparked microsphere struck from steel.

    However, even then it's a bit more complex than it seems:
     
  30. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Metabunk 2018-10-24 22-00-51.

    Got myself an actual steel and flint. It makes sparks, but requires rather more effort.
     
  31. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Metabunk 2018-10-25 20-33-56.

    Metabunk 2018-10-25 20-44-34.

    I think I had a poor quality stone, but still got a bunch of microspheres - along with a bunch of shavings.
     
  32. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    A very minor source of metallic spheres: There would have been 10,000+ ballpoint pens in the buildings. The balls are made of a titanium alloy, so might have survived a fire, of freed during the collapse. Here's one I extracted from a pen.
    BallPoint Pen-w.
    IMG_6083-w.
    (That's the same type of pen, so identical ball)
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
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  33. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    I've never been a chemist, but I'm fairly certain that multiple compounds must have mixed during the falls and fires during 911 (concrete dust, insulation, metal fragments and parts, metallic electronics, wire (copper) and a whole lot more).
    The hard part is verifying what happens a combination occurs with low melting metals....and if it can produce what looks like micospheres......and what they're made of.