20 April 2013

Bacon, It's Not Just for Breakfast

You can also use it to cut a hole through armor plate:
I recently committed myself to the goal, before the weekend was out, of creating a device entirely from bacon and using it to cut a steel pan in half. My initial attempts were failures, but I knew success was within reach when I was able to ignite and melt the pan using seven beef sticks and a cucumber.

No, seriously. The device I built was a form of thermal lance. A thermal lance, typically made of iron instead of bacon, is used to cut up scrap metal and rescue people from collapsed buildings. It works by blowing pure oxygen gas through a pipe packed with iron and magnesium rods. These metals are surprisingly flammable in pure oxygen, releasing a huge amount of heat as they are consumed. The result is a jet of superheated iron plasma coming out of the end of the pipe. For sheer destructive force, few tools match a thermal lance. But iron isn't the only thing that's flammable in a stream of pure oxygen.
I've done some work with exothermic cutters, which are simpler than a thermal lance.

It's an iron tube. You blow oxygen through it, and when you strike an arc, you ignite the iron, and the hot stream of oxygen which burns through whatever you are cutting.

Basically, if you pass oxygen through a tube of anything which burns hot enough to start your target burning, and almost any metal or oil/fat will in a pure oxygen atmosphere, you can cut through almost anything.

Still, it's neat. 


Cthulhu said...

So, 'splain this to me, Dr. McCoy. Is it the oxygen that's burning through the material, or the fat/iron/whatever propelled by the high pressure oxygen and heated by the burning O2?

Matthew Saroff said...

It's pretty simple: The burning fat (or Iron or Magnesium in a thermal lance) serves only to elevate the temperature of the oxygen sufficiently to ignite the material being cut.

Cthulhu said...

That is all kinds of cool.

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