Salty Brine State Beach explosion

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jpers36
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Salty Brine State Beach explosion

Postby jpers36 » Thu Jul 30, 2015 2:02 pm UTC

Overview of the original news from a few weeks back:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nati ... story.html

Explanations:
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cause-of-my ... nd-solved/
http://www.dem.ri.gov/news/2015/pr/0724151.htm
http://www.dem.ri.gov/news/2015/pdf/saltyinc.pdf

These guys are obviously scientists and I'm not, but I think I generally have a handle on how things work. What confuses me is (a) electrolysis from an inactive power cable, and (b) sand infused with enough hydrogen from this electrolysis to cause an explosion. I can accept (a) although I'd like a more detailed explanation. But I just don't get how (b) is possible, both in terms of the rate of hydrogen creation from the cable and the amount of hydrogen which could be infused into sand. Anyone interested in explaining?

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quintopia
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Re: Salty Brine State Beach explosion

Postby quintopia » Sun Aug 02, 2015 10:15 pm UTC

WRT (a): Copper is not normally corroded in most environmental conditions, but wet sand is perfect for corroding it. See http://www.copper.org/resources/propert ... round.html esp. the section on Concentration Cell Corrosion

(b): Sand can't hold that many cations relatively speaking, but if it could, it would be less likely to burn. Hydrogen that is bonded tightly is less likely to combust at low temperatures. That's why the dry sand (which you can see in the layer diagram in the pdf) is the combustion zone. Water, on the other hand, can hold quite a bit of hydrogen. (They call it hydrogen peroxide, you know.) That's why the lowest wet sand layer is marked "H2 buildup" in the same diagram. According to the report, the hydrogen content of the surrounding sand was only 5% higher than ambient (and it probably could not have held very much more than that). Turns out this is quite enough!

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Neil_Boekend
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Re: Salty Brine State Beach explosion

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:51 am UTC

Yes. Hydrogen is really flammable. The flammable range is 5-95% concentration (at 1 atmosphere). Between that you just need an ignition source and those are usually plenty. Maybe the woman build up a static charge in her clothing.

The only stuff I know that is nastier (explosion wise) is silane. That stuff explodes between 1.37% and 100%. The ignition temperature is 18°C (64°F for the metrically challenged) and the cloud of dust an explosion creates is about as cancerous as asbestos. Fun stuff.
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PM 2Ring
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Re: Salty Brine State Beach explosion

Postby PM 2Ring » Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:48 am UTC

quintopia wrote:[...]Water, on the other hand, can hold quite a bit of hydrogen. (They call it hydrogen peroxide, you know.)[...]

Not quite. Hydrogen peroxide is H2O2. Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizing agent and somewhat unstable due to the O-O (peroxide) bond. FWIW, when it decomposes it tends to give off free oxygen, not hydrogen.

Water, H2O, is sometimes called hydrogen monoxide, but it's normally just called water.

Wikipedia wrote:The accepted IUPAC name of water is oxidane[49] or simply water, or its equivalent in different languages, although there are other systematic names which can be used to describe the molecule.[50]

The simplest systematic name of water is hydrogen oxide. This is analogous to related compounds such as hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen sulfide, and deuterium oxide (heavy water). Another systematic name, oxidane, is accepted by IUPAC as a parent name for the systematic naming of oxygen-based substituent groups,[51] although even these commonly have other recommended names. For example, the name hydroxyl is recommended over oxidanyl for the –OH group. The name oxane is explicitly mentioned by the IUPAC as being unsuitable for this purpose, since it is already the name of a cyclic ether also known as tetrahydropyran.

The polarized form of the water molecule, H+OH−, is also called hydron hydroxide by IUPAC nomenclature.[52]

Dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) is a rarely used name of water. This term has been used in various hoaxes or spoofs that call for this "lethal chemical" to be banned, such as in the dihydrogen monoxide hoax. Other systematic names for water include hydroxic acid, hydroxylic acid, and hydrogen hydroxide. Both acid and alkali names exist for water because it is amphoteric (able to react both as an acid or an alkali). None of these exotic names are used widely.


Also see the DHMO Homepage. :)

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Neil_Boekend
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Re: Salty Brine State Beach explosion

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Aug 03, 2015 11:12 am UTC

H+ looks weird. It's a free proton (in 99.9885% of all cases).
Mikeski wrote:A "What If" update is never late. Nor is it early. It is posted precisely when it should be.

patzer's signature wrote:
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