1 June, 2014

Cutting Torch

Looking for the physics behind the reaction. . I know the torch doesn’t melt the steel. . How does the oxidizer work here? Could there be any kind of critical mass reaction. After speaking to others on the web, I found the answer. On your oxyacetylene torch system there will be three types of valves, the tank valve, the regulator valve, and the torch valve. There will be one of them for each gas. The gas in the tanks or cylinders is at high pressure. Oxygen cylinders are typically filled to something like 2200 psi. The regulator converts the high pressure gas to a low pressure stream suitable for welding. Never attempt to directly use high-pressure gas. Most neophytes believe that oxy-acetylene torches work by having the very hot flame of the acetylene torch melt the steel or the material that is being cut, and that the oxygen is present to support combustion. As anyone whoever has actually used such a torch knows, there are two settings on a cutting torch. One setting is the “torch head” valve, which can be adjusted to proportionally control the burning mixture of oxygen and acetylene (sometimes propane or propylene), which heats the steel up to a point that approaches its melting temperature. A second, lever-actuated valve controls the flow of pure oxygen into the heated zone. This oxygen has no flammable gas in it, but it does supply the oxidizer that causes the steel, or more specifically the iron, to burn. The iron burns in pure oxygen the same as wood burns in air. The most common oxidizer is oxygen. In addition to oxygen, common oxidizing gases (in their order of “oxidizing ability”) include air, nitrous oxide, nitric oxide, chlorine, nitrogen trifluoride, and fluorine. When a cutting torch using these alternative oxidizers may not cut thick iron/steel, they will work on any metals. The point is that oxidizing gases other than oxygen could actually be used with cutting torches—not necessarily with good results, but they would work.


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  1. Paulina May 29, 2014 at 12:05 am #
    acetylene and oxygen are regulated from tanks to the burning tip. At that point they are mixed, lighted with a spark. This creates a small "wind" of gas burning at up to 2500 degrees. placing this flame on a metal edge cuts/burns (oxidizes) through the metal by melting it and blowing it off the cutting edge.