Explosion of Burning Zirconium Droplets Caused by Nitrogen

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  18 Jun 1965:
Vol. 148, Issue 3677, pp. 1594-1595
DOI: 10.1126/science.148.3677.1594


Single droplets of zirconium were photographed as they burned luminously in free fall. When the oxidizer was oxygen containing small amounts of nitrogen (less than 5 percent), the burning droplets exploded only when a threshold concentration of nitrogen was exceeded. Explosions also occurred when the zirconium was partially nitrided before being burned in pure oxygen. These experiments prove that the presence of nitrogen can cause the explosion of zirconium droplets burning in oxygen-rich atmospheres.