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LABOR PROTECTION AND SAFETY ENGINEERING IN POWDER METALLURGY

SELF-IGNITION E. I. Popov

OF

MAGNESIUM

POWDERS UDC 621.762.3

In view of the wide use of m a g n e s i u m powders in industry, it is important to know their c r i t i c a l values of ignitability under various conditions. This will make it possible to a s s e s s the degree of hazard encountered in any situation and take precautions enabling such powders to be handled safely in any p r o c e s s . Unfortunately, the published information on the spontaneous combustion of m a g n e s i u m powders is lacking in a g r e e m e n t , and it is thus impossible to obtain a reliable picture of the problem involved (Table 1). Lack of information on particle shapes and s o m e t i m e s even on particle sizes hinders c o m p a r i s o n and use of existing data. Apart from this, contamination by detritus from, for example, milling c u t t e r s and mill balls and lining can affect the ignition behavior of powders. The iron content of some of the powders was as high as 4 %. C o m p a r i s o n of the self-ignition t e m p e r a t u r e s of powders of different particle s i z e s and shapes is made even m o r e difficult by the fact that different a u t h o r s employed different experimental procedures. In the work d e s c r i b e d below, the ignition behavior of m a g n e s i u m powders of different particle shapes and s i z e s was studied under identical e x p e r i m e n t a l conditions so as to obtain c o m p a r a b l e r e s u l t s and make it possible to examine the effects of individual factors. Ignition t e m p e r a t u r e s were d e t e r m i n e d by the differential t h e r m a l method. Before deciding on the p r e c i s e test conditions, a study was made ofthe dependence of the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e upon two p a r a m e t e r s , namely, the rate of flow of air and the rate of heating of the specimen. The values of these two p a r a m e t e r s were chosen (1 l i t e r / r a i n , 25 deg C/min) giving the lowe s t ignition t e m p e r a t u r e s . Air of the required moisture content was p r e p a r e d by bubbling dried a i r through water in a c o n s t a n t - t e m p e r a t u r e vessel. The actual ignition t e m p e r a t u r e was taken to be the lowest t e m p e r a t u r e r e c o r d e d in five parallel e x p e r i m e n t s , provided that it differed by not more than 10 deg C from the mean tempe rature. The effect of particle size on ignition t e m p e r a t u r e was investigated using powders produced by m a chining (in a milling machine). To obtain different fractions, the powders were passed through various sieves. The particle size distribution of the finest powders (-50 I~) was d e t e r m i n e d by sedimentation a n a l ysis (Fig. 1) {performed in ethyl alcohol as d i s p e r s i n g medium, using a Shimadzu automatic apparatus). The variation of the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e of the powders with their particle size is depicted in Fig. 2. It will be seen that the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e sharply r i s e s with i n c r e a s e in particle size up to ~ 100 p. F o r c o a r s e r powders, the dependence of their ignition t e m p e r a t u r e on particle size is less pronounced. The ignition t e m p e r a t u r e of a powder depends not only on its total specific surface but also, and very markedly, on its particle size distribution. This is c l e a r l y illustrated by the r e s u l t s of experiments on c o a r s e powders with additions of various amounts of fines. Thus, a powder of 4 - to 6 - m m particle size ignited at 597~ but the addition to it of 25 and 50% of a powder of - 1 5 - p particle size lowered its ignition t e m p e r a t u r e to 575 and 550~ respectively. Fine p a r t i c l e s in a mixture heat up m o r e rapidly and then act as ignition initiators, thereby determining the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e of a multisized mixture. The same conclusion follows also from a c o m p a r i s o n of the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e s of the two - 5 0 - p fraction s p e c i m e n s whose particle size distributions are shown in Fig. 1 (curves 1 and 2). Both specimens had the same limiting particle d i a m e t e r , but specimen No. 1 contained a higher proportion of the finest fractions (0-10 and 10-20 g), as a r e s u l t of which it ignited at a t e m p e r a t u r e of 517~ while specimen No. 2 ignited at 535~ It is interesting to note that three fractions having different upper particle size limits but a l m o s t the same surface (thanks to the p r e s e n c e of v e r y fine particles) were found to have a l m o s t identical ignition t e m p e r a t u r e s (535, 537, and 540~ respectively). Moscow. Translated from P o r o s h k o v a y a Metallurgiya, No. 7 (139), pp, 93-96, July, 1974. Original article submitted J a n u a r y 28, 1972.
9 1974 Consultants Bureau, a division of Plenum Publishing Corporation, 227 West 17th Street, New York, N. Y. I0011. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without written permission of the publisher. A copy of this article is available from the publisher for $15.00.

594

50 ~0

! -..,,

TABLE 1. Self-Ignition T e m p e r a t u r e s of Magnesium Powders Type of powder Self-ignition temp., ~


4oo

Source [ ~I [2] [2] [3] [41 [41 [5] [6] [6] [7] [8] [9]

30 20

\
10 20 ,YO

\
--<..
~40

\
50 50

"<0

particle diameter, Fig. 1. P a r t i c l e size d i s t r i bution of m a g n e s i u m powders o f - 5 0 - # particle size.

Dust Dry dust Moist dust powder (-270 ~) Fine powder Coarse powder Powder powder (-40 /l) powder (40- 66 p) Powder Dry dust Powder

420--440 360--370 570 480 560 520--550 532 504--548 520 450 490

o G 600

g,,o/
K 5oo
4o0
o

TABLE 2. Ignition T e m p e r a t u r e s of Magnesium Powders of Various P a r t i c l e Shapes Ignition temperaof preparation


o,0 t,a 1,0 2,o

shape

[dryair ~ttmid air

particle size, mm

Fig. 2. Variation of ignition t e m p e r a t u r e of m a g n e s i u m powders with p a r t i c l e size.

Comminution in mortar Machining in milling machine Comminntien in impacteddy mill Comminution in ball mill Granulation

Petal-shaped Irregular, jagged Irregular,rounded Spheroidal Spherical

540 560 575 580 585

510 530 545 550 552

To examine the effects of particle shape, experiments were c a r r i e d out on powders of the same p a r t i cle size (-71 p) produced by different methods (Table 2). As can be seen from the table, the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e is strongly affected by the particle shape of the powder. The e a s i e s t to ignite are powders c o m posed of flattened p a r t i c l e s , which have a well-developed surface. As particle shape a p p r o a c h e s s p h e r i c a l , the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e of the powder r i s e s . All magnesium powders, i r r e s p e c t i v e of their particle size o r shape, burn spontaneously at t e m p e r a t u r e s below 600~ i.e., before the metal begins to melt. This c o m p a r a t i v e ease of self-ignition is a t t r i butable to the poor protective qualities of magnesium oxide films and to the high vapor p r e s s u r e of m a g nesium at test t e m p e r a t u r e s . The heat being evolved during oxidation r e a c t i o n s on the particle s u r f a c e s r a i s e s the t e m p e r a t u r e of m a g n e s i u m and b r i n g s about its partial evaporation. The resultant magnesium v a p o r - a i r mixture is then ignited by the hot particles. The flame produced during the combustion is blindingly bright and white. The p r o c e s s is accompanied by the evolution of m a g n e s i u m oxide in the f o r m of white smoke. In the c a s e of p a r t i c l e s with smooth s u r f a c e s it was found that, during the oxidation r e actions preceding ignition, flashes appeared at some points, a f t e r which the flame s p r e a d o v e r the whole surface. With i r r e g u l a r - s h a p e d p a r t i c l e s , on the o t h e r hand, their sharp edges ignited first, which intensified the ignition p r o c e s s . Humidifying the a i r was found to lower the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e s of all the powders investigated; at a relative humidity of 1.8%, the fall in ignition t e m p e r a t u r e was as much as 30-40 deg C (Table 2). At humidities of 1.8-15%, the self-ignition t e m p e r a t u r e s r e m a i n e d virtually unchanged. At still higher m o i s ture contents, the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e s began to r i s e , returning to their original values at a humidity of 50%. F u r t h e r i n c r e a s e in humidity to 100% r a i s e d the ignition t e m p e r a t u r e s by another 10-15 des C. The results obtained c l e a r l y show that the self-ignition behavior of m a g n e s i u m powders is strongly affected by their particle size and shape and by the humidity of the air. They also explain the d i s c r e p a n c i e s in the data obtained by different authors. Determinations made with allowance for these f a c t o r s yield m o r e

595

reliable starting data, with the aid of which it should be possible to minimize hazards in the handling of magnesium powders. LITERATURE 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. CITED

L . N . Bidulya, Casting Production Technology [in Russian], Metallurgizdat, Moscow (1956). V, V. Krymov, Safety Engineering in the Handling of Magnesium Alloys [in Russian], Oborongiz (1955). F. Clark, New Powder Metallurgy Techniques [Russian translation], Metallurgizdat (1965). Yu. Kh. Shaulov, Liquid and Solid Rocket Fuels [in Russian], Moscow (1955). H. Nowotny, Usp. Khim., 27....,No. 3 (1958). G. Constantinides, Ann. Chim., 49 (1952). Hartmann, Mining Met., 2-9, 331 (1945). S. Wernke, Fertigungsteehnik, 4, 133 (1954). A. Jacobson, U. S. Bur. Mines Rept. Inv., 65, 176 (1964).

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