Analysis of titanium/carbon steel heat exchanger fire



In the past fifteen years two serious titanium fires have occurred at scrap dealer facilities. Both incidents involved the cutting of titanium/carbon steel heat exchangers by scrap metal dealers. This paper reviews the properties of titanium and carbon steel under extreme conditions and the oxy-acetylene cutting process relevant to its potential for initiating titanium fires. The probable modes of propagation involved in these specific incidents are considered. The formation of low melting eutectic mixtures and the Thermite reaction are both felt to contribute to the incident once initiated. Alternate methods of cutting titanium/carbon steel exchangers are discussed.