Aluminum-Water Explosions Theory of Collapse, Christian Simensen

Jason

Senior Member
[Tread split from: https://www.metabunk.org/threads/molten-and-glowing-metal.2029/page-11 ]

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921074747.htm.

I don't know if this article has been cited in any of the 9/11 threads on this forum, but the lead scientist Christian J. Simensen of SINTEF proposed a new theory to explain the collapse of the world trade centers. He basically argues that the hull of the plane, which is made of an aluminum alloy, wasn't destroyed upon impact and that it very likely remained in the buildings. He proposes that the hull of the plane melted due to intense fires from the jet fuel and office fires. I bring this up because he said that when molten aluminum comes in contact with water, it will explode. He believes that these explosions which were heard within the buildings are a result of aluminum coming in contact with the water from the plumbing and sprinkler systems. This theory could explain why explosions were heard, and help explain why there appeared to be molten metal pouring out of the tower's corner.
 
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Redwood

Active Member
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921074747.htm. I don't know if this article has been cited in any of the 9/11 threads on this forum, but the lead scientist Christian J. Simensen of SINTEF proposed a new theory to explain the collapse of the world trade centers. He basically argues that the hull of the plane, which is made of an aluminum alloy, wasn't destroyed upon impact and that it very likely remained in the buildings. He proposes that the hull of the plane melted due to intense fires from the jet fuel and office fires. I bring this up because he said that when molten aluminum comes in contact with water, it will explode. He believes that these explosions which were heard within the buildings are a result of aluminum coming in contact with the water from the plumbing and sprinkler systems. This theory could explain why explosions were heard, and help explain why there appeared to be molten metal pouring out of the tower's corner.

Very unlikely, IMHO. Either he's talking a hydrogen-air explosion, caused by aluminum reducing water to hydrogen, or a steam explosion. A low-explosive, like a hydrogen-air mix, can't be used like a high explosive for demolition purposes. High explosives are formed into shape charges and placed directly onto support columns where they concentrate a large fraction of their energy onto a very small area in the form of kinetic energy in so short a time that it cannot be dissipated in the form of sound waves, and the material fractures.

Low explosives can't do this. In olden times, they were used to destroy fortifications and such, but the process was different. Tons and tons were used, and the process was really just pushing everything out of the way. Look up "The Battle of the Crater" in the American Civil War.

Any hydrogen-air or steam explosion capable of taking down a building would be heard over a thousand square miles.
 

Jason

Senior Member
Very unlikely, IMHO. Either he's talking a hydrogen-air explosion, caused by aluminum reducing water to hydrogen, or a steam explosion. A low-explosive, like a hydrogen-air mix, can't be used like a high explosive for demolition purposes. High explosives are formed into shape charges and placed directly onto support columns where they concentrate a large fraction of their energy onto a very small area in the form of kinetic energy in so short a time that it cannot be dissipated in the form of sound waves, and the material fractures.
The article wasn't proposing that the bldg's were taken down by explosives, the scientist was merely pointing out that the explosions heard could've been a result of the molten aluminum coming in contact with water from the plumbing or sprinkler systems. This could explain why explosions were heard in the towers. CT's want to believe that the explosions or the collapse of the bldgs were the result of demo or thermite, but I think this makes a much better case.. His point being is that the 9/11 commission and NIST didn't take into account that the airplanes brought 30 tonnes of aluminum into the bldgs.
The fire

"So you believe that it was the aircraft themselves that became superheated, rather than the buildings?

"Yes I do. The disintegrated aircraft probably came to a stop near the centre of the buildings. The materials along the track of the collision must also have burned. But the really hot zone was where the aircraft came to a stop. I believe that some of the aircraft's fuel tanks must have suffered major damage, but that most of them would have been cut in two when they met the steel beams in the buildings, and that the development of the fire was therefore fairly constant."

"I believe that the planes must have been lying in a sort of basin of material debris, with the floor of the basin two or three storeys below the one that they ploughed into. The entire internal basin must have been heated by the burning fuel. Outside of the basin, the temperature would have been much lower."

"The aluminium alloy of the aircraft hulls, which also contains magnesium, melts at a temperature of 660o C. Experience gained from the aluminium industry suggests that it may have taken between half and three-quarters of an hour to reach such a temperature. If molten aluminium is heated further to a temperature of 750o C, it becomes just as liquid as water. I presume that this is what happened within the Twin Towers, and that the molten aluminium then began to run down into the floors below."

The explosions

"What happened then?"

"All the floors in the Twin Towers were equipped with sprinkler systems. All the water above the hot aircraft bodies must have turned to steam. If my theory is correct, tonnes of aluminium ran down through the towers, where the smelt came into contact with a few hundred litres of water. From other disasters and experiments carried out by the aluminium industry, we know that reactions of this sort lead to violent explosions."

"The aluminium would immediately react with the water, with the result of a local rise on temperature of several hundred degrees, in addition to the explosions that were due to the fact that these reactions release hydrogen. Such reactions are particularly powerful when rust or other catalysts are present, which can raise the temperature to more than 1500o C."

"The aluminium industry has reported more than 250 aluminium-water explosions since 1980. Alcoa Aluminium carried out an experiment under controlled conditions, in which 20 kilos of aluminium smelt were allowed to react with 20 kilos of water, to which some rust was added. The explosion destroyed the entire laboratory and left a crater 30 metres in diameter."

"Many people in New York reported that they had heard explosions just before the buildings collapsed. Film taken of the buildings also showed explosions in the floor below the impacts. Given that the amount of aluminium involved was large in comparison with the quantity of water, and since rust was probably also present, I believe that it is highly likely that the building collapsed as a result of a series of extremely energy-rich aluminium-water explosions."

The collapse

"How could explosions in the centre of a building cause a whole tower to collapse?"

"Aluminium-water explosions are like dynamite explosions. They were probably powerful enough to blow out an entire section of each building. The top section would than fall down on top of the sections that remained below, and the sheer weight of the top floors would be enough to crush the lower part of the building."
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Jazzy

Closed Account
A low-explosive, like a hydrogen-air mix, can't be used like a high explosive for demolition purposes.
Hydrogen gas/air mixtures are ignited very easily (rubbing your hand in your hair can do it) and in a semi-restricted enclosure (like the inside of a building) can improve their combustion efficiency (by raising the pressure).
Walls have been known to have been blasted out in the vicinity of large Down's Cells, when the weather is stormy outside them.

Nevertheless I don't believe your theory correct. Damaged and uninsulated yet burning lightweight steel super-tall structures have short lifetimes.

If their columns had been made of reinforced concrete or plain steel water-filled tubing they'd still be standing.
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This whole theory sounds highly implausible to me. The only bit that's reasonable it that there might be some small "explosion", but even then a large quantity of aluminum is not going to be instantly submerged in a large quantity of water.

Just aluminum is not that reactive. See 2:20 into this:

also

This appears to be a steam explosion, requiring a confined space:

There are some videos of Aluminum Alkyl exploding in contact with water. But: A) it's not aluminum, and B) it does not really explode, just reacts rapidly over a couple of seconds.
 

Jason

Senior Member
This whole theory sounds highly implausible to me. The only bit that's reasonable it that there might be some small "explosion", but even then a large quantity of aluminum is not going to be instantly submerged in a large quantity of water.

Just aluminum is not that reactive. See 2:20 into this:

also

This appears to be a steam explosion, requiring a confined space:

There are some videos of Aluminum Alkyl exploding in contact with water. But: A) it's not aluminum, and B) it does not really explode, just reacts rapidly over a couple of seconds.
I agree, I've been doing a little digging myself and keep coming across the same videos that you posted above. In the first video, we do see an immediate reaction when the water is added to the molten aluminum by the hose. We see steam coming off of it. I wonder though, with 30 tonnes of airplane aluminum in each bldg, how accurate are back yard test in comparison, and also what would all of that super heated steam do to the inside of the bldg in conjunction with office fires. I remember there clearly being a great deal of white smoke coming out of the towers after the black smoke settled down. Could this have attributed to that?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I agree, I've been doing a little digging myself and keep coming across the same videos that you posted above. In the first video, we do see an immediate reaction when the water is added to the molten aluminum by the hose. We see steam coming off of it. I wonder though, with 30 tonnes of airplane aluminum in each bldg, how accurate are back yard test in comparison, and also what would all of that super heated steam do to the inside of the bldg in conjunction with office fires. I remember there clearly being a great deal of white smoke coming out of the towers after the black smoke settled down. Could this have attributed to that?

I doubt that steam from boiling water was a significant component of the smoke.

Discussing "30 tonnes" of aluminum makes it sound like there's a 30 tonne bomb going off. In reality any water-aluminum interaction is going to be incremental as the aluminum flows down into an area of standing water. And it's not like there are going to be swimming pools of water there. You might give rivulets of water flowing into puddles of water, but all it's going to do is splatter molten aluminum around.
 

Jason

Senior Member
I doubt that steam from boiling water was a significant component of the smoke.

Discussing "30 tonnes" of aluminum makes it sound like there's a 30 tonne bomb going off. In reality any water-aluminum interaction is going to be incremental as the aluminum flows down into an area of standing water. And it's not like there are going to be swimming pools of water there. You might give rivulets of water flowing into puddles of water, but all it's going to do is splatter molten aluminum around.
I did come across this article by pyrotek where they basically break down Alluminum/water explosions into 3 different categories. Here's the article;
http://www.pyrotek.info/documents/i...nium_Insight_2011-02_Wise_Chem-Explosions.pdf.
In the aluminium industry the term “pop”
is often heard, being used to describe a
non eventful splash of liquid metal. this
is actually a Force 1 explosion as defined
by the aluminum association who has
categorized water / molten aluminium
explosions into three levels.
A Force 1 explosion is also referred to
as a steam explosion. this occurs when
molten aluminium traps water which is
then quickly vaporized to steam. the metal
is shot up to 15 ft (~4.5 m) and normally
involves less than 10 lb (~4.5 kg) of metal.
typical incidents occur for example with
damp moulds, wet starting blocks, or water
on the casting table top. in these cases
injuries are minor and often involve minor
burns.
A Force 2 explosion results from a violent
steam reaction. Metal is ejected 15–50 ft
(~4.5–15 m) and involves much more than
30 lb (~14 kg) of metal. Metal can often be
seen on the inside roofs and walls of the
casting area as a result of these explosions.
serious injury and fatalities can result from
these incidents. they are a result of wet scrap, improperly preheated sows, massive
bleedouts, or molten metal being drained
into wet or contaminated moulds.
A Force 3 explosion is a catastrophic event
where a large volume of metal is projected
more than 50 ft (~15 m). Fatalities often
occur along with near total destruction of
the immediate area. a Force 3 explosion is
identified by the extent of destruction and a
white powder (aluminium oxide) covering
the area. one pound of aluminium in a Force3 explosion is equal to 3 lb (1.4 kg)
of tnt.
Molten aluminium can also explode as
a result of violent reactions with certain
metal oxides, such as iron, lead, copper and
bismuth. some of these oxides also have
attached waters of hydration which makes
the situation even worse. Most people are
aware that rusted iron or steel will react
when in contact with molten aluminium.

However, one major aluminium producer
experienced a Force 3 explosion in the
furnace without any water at all in the
area. this was on a Monday morning after a weekend shut down.
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I also thought the last part I highlighted could have attributed to a different set of circumstances than your backyard test... What do you think and did they find any aluminum oxide? We've also established that the fireproofing was ripped off of the beams when the plane impacted the towers, which would've revealed the steal beams, and due to their age would've shown rust on them as evident in many of the pictures following the attack. Could the molten aluminum have come in contact with the steal beams that lost their fire proofing?
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I was just about to post that. Specifically the bit that seems to refer to the "crater 30 meters in diameter" experiment referenced by Simensen

an alcoa paper titled “Molten aluminum / Water explosions” published in 1979, points out another problem. this was a test to evaluate various coatings. it involved the standard 12 x 12 x 12 in box half full of water into which 50 lb (~23 kg) of molten aluminium is dropped and an impact hammer hits the side to initiate the explosion. various coatings are tested this way. in one test, red rustoleum was used, but before the explosion could be initiated it went off by itself. red rustoleum contains large amounts of iron oxide, which reacted with the molten aluminium and caused the explosion. the experiment was stopped and the aluminium industry was made aware of this problem.
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Seems like a large explosion requires a very specific set of circumstances.[/ex][/ex]
 

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Jason

Senior Member
I was just about to post that. Specifically the bit that seems to refer to the "crater 30 meters in diameter" experiment referenced by Simensen

an alcoa paper titled “Molten aluminum / Water explosions” published in 1979, points out another problem. this was a test to evaluate various coatings. it involved the standard 12 x 12 x 12 in box half full of water into which 50 lb (~23 kg) of molten aluminium is dropped and an impact hammer hits the side to initiate the explosion. various coatings are tested this way. in one test, red rustoleum was used, but before the explosion could be initiated it went off by itself. red rustoleum contains large amounts of iron oxide, which reacted with the molten aluminium and caused the explosion. the experiment was stopped and the aluminium industry was made aware of this problem.
Content from External Source
Seems like a large explosion requires a very specific set of circumstances.[/ex][/ex]
Yes but correct me if I'm wrong, this has to deal with a furnace for smelting metals. These are very controlled conditions, and an office fire in a sky scraper wouldn't have had the same conditions. Come to think of it, there was plenty of copper wiring and plumbing running through each floor as well. It's plausible that this could've aided in the destruction of the towers, but impossible to prove 13 yrs after the fact.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Yes but correct me if I'm wrong, this has to deal with a furnace for smelting metals. These are very controlled conditions, and an office fire in a sky scraper wouldn't have had the same conditions. Come to think of it, there was plenty of copper wiring and plumbing running through each floor as well. It's plausible that this could've aided in the destruction of the towers, but impossible to prove 13 yrs after the fact.

Yes, very controlled conditions, enclosed space, high temperatures. And the instantaneous introduction of 20kg of Al into 20Kg of water, in an enclosed container, in the presence of an oxidising agent.

And look at the Force 3 explosion in China:

Before:


After:


Look pretty dramatic, but there's really very little structural damage. Basically just overpressure blowing out the walls and roof. The columns are untouched. The roof collapsed because it was lifted off its supports, not because the supports were damaged.

If such a thing happened in the WTC you would see a massive simultaneous expulsion of all the windows on one floor before the collapse started. Nothing like that was observed, so it didn't happen.
 

Jason

Senior Member
Yes, very controlled conditions, enclosed space, high temperatures. And the instantaneous introduction of 20kg of Al into 20Kg of water, in an enclosed container, in the presence of an oxidising agent.

And look at the Foce 3 explosion in China:

Before:


After:


Look pretty dramatic, but there's really very little structural damage. Basically just overpressure blowing out the walls and roof. The columns are untouched. The roof collapsed because it was lifted off its supports, not because the supports were damaged.

If such a thing happened in the WTC you would see a massive simultaneous expulsion of all the windows on one floor before the collapse started. Nothing like that was observed, so it didn't happen.
I have to agree with you that a Force 3 explosion was highly unlikely since we didn't see evidence of this prior to their collapse, but could there have been smaller explosion within the towers that could've contributed to the overall demise of the towers. It could also help explain why witnesses "thought" they heard explosions in the towers. I may be wrong but smaller force 1 & 2 explosions could easily explain away why explosions were heard. Pardon me for not knowing this, but did NIST take any of this into consideration, I mean the airplanes mass or aluminum hull..
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I have to agree with you that a Force 3 explosion was highly unlikely since we didn't see evidence of this prior to their collapse, but could there have been smaller explosion within the towers that could've contributed to the overall demise of the towers. It could also help explain why witnesses "thought" they heard explosions in the towers. I may be wrong but smaller force 1 & 2 explosions could easily explain away why explosions were heard. Pardon me for not knowing this, but did NIST take any of this into consideration, I mean the airplanes mass or aluminum hull..

I don't think water-aluminum explosions were considered as a factor. Probably because there was no evidence of any substantial explosion, and even very large explosions would not do much structural damage.
 

Redwood

Active Member
The article wasn't proposing that the bldg's were taken down by explosives, the scientist was merely pointing out that the explosions heard could've been a result of the molten aluminum coming in contact with water from the plumbing or sprinkler systems. This could explain why explosions were heard in the towers. CT's want to believe that the explosions or the collapse of the bldgs were the result of demo or thermite, but I think this makes a much better case.. His point being is that the 9/11 commission and NIST didn't take into account that the airplanes brought 30 tonnes of aluminum into the bldgs.

I wasn't suggesting that anyone was suggesting that actual explosives were used; I was explaining that a steam explosion or a hydrogen-air explosion would act like a low explosive such as black powder. (OK, maybe a medium one like ANFO.) I also pointed out that demolitions with such explosives require huge quantities, and their mode of operation is different. Think of the OKC bombing as a modern example. A huge explosion heard for miles. Sorry if I wasn't clear on this.
 

Matt50

New Member
Well the official investigation didn't factoring any aluminium into there investigation so no one knows for sure. As for the power of the explosion well it don't have to be that powerful as all it needs to do is push the beams beyond there stress limits or damage the protective coating. With out the protective coating the beam would fail in about 12 minutes.
 
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