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Thread: Acetylene-filled balloons explode - GIF

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    Jon
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    Supporting Member jdurand's Avatar
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    good thing there wasn't any air in there with it, or nobody would have been left standing.

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    First day of welding class in HS, our teacher taught us the difference between acetylene, oxygen, and combined, by filing a balloon with each, then touching each balloon with a red-hot welding rod

    Oxygen went 'pop', acetylene was a nice quiet 'floop!' of yellow flame and floating soot. oxyacetylene...well our ears were still ringing fifteen minutes later...

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    Acetylene is only slightly lighter than air; slightly enough that the balloons would barely float, if at all. I figure the balloons were filled with hydrogen which is even lighter than the traditional helium fill.

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    Supporting Member jdurand's Avatar
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    Hydrogen burns almost ultraviolet. Someone my wife knew (NOT ME) used to fill balloons with hydrogen and a bit of air, then fly them at night over a local large populated area with a time fuse. They would explode with barely any glow and created a mystery for years.

    Possible "natural gas" as currently delivered by utilities. Depending on the mix you get, may be lighter than air.

    I used to know someone (STILL NOT ME) who lived in the SW USA and would fill a roll of dry cleaning bag plastic (one long tube on a big spool) with natural gas that was lighter. Send it aloft at night with a time fuse (I'm detecting a pattern), with no air mixed in it would burn in a long flame. Many UFO reports. A local UFO group once asked him if he believed in UFOs, he said "sure! I'm responsible for most of your sightings".

    He'd also do stuff like dump propane down into abandoned mine shafts and then from a safe (???) distance toss a flare in. Said the blast was "impressive".

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    Yes I recon Nat gas was the culprit. Acetylene would be dangerous to handle filling that many balloons

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    natural gas and static electricity from the groups of balloons coming in contact with another group of balloons
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    Acetylene is heavier than air, its probably methane / natural gas.

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    It makes me wonder what they were thinking when they decided to make a lot of explosive balloons.
    It looks like the explosion was started by the one person with green balloons touching them against the lights. Luckily it does not look like anybody was injured even though none of the balloons survived.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Liquidhandwash View Post
    Acetylene is heavier than air, its probably methane / natural gas.
    Nope - acetylene is 10% lighter ( than air) at 1,095 kg/m3 @ 16 C and 1 Bar.
    Density of air at 20 C and 1 Bar, is between 1,1934 @ 0% RH and 1,2039 @ 100% RH

    For most practical uses: ρ = 1,25 kg/m

    Ignition was probably caused from static electricity potential differences between the balloons and/ or their respective holders.

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    Last edited by DIYSwede; Nov 19, 2019 at 03:21 AM. Reason: misspelling

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