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OXYGEN AND ACETYLENE
This chapter will deal with the two
gases which, burned together, produce the oxy-acetylene flame. It will cover their
properties, their production, their
commercial distribution, the containers in which they are stored and distributed,
and the precautions which should be
observed when using the gases or handling and storing the containers.
which makes up about 21 percent of the air we normally breathe, as well as about
90 percent by weight of all
the water on earth, may be considered the most important element in the universe.
Without it, there would be no life
as we know it. Every living animal burns oxygen with carbon and hydrogen
to produce the energy that it needs in
order to live, grow, and move. Fortunately for the animal kingdom, all green plants
produce more oxygen than they
consume, so that the reservoir of oxygen in our atmosphere remains at a constant
level from century to century.
Oxygen not only combines with carbon
and hydrogen to produce energy (heat), but combines with most of the
other elements found in the universe,
including all metals. Fortunately, its reaction with most elements and
compounds takes place very slowly or
not at all at normal temperatures. However, almost everything made up
predominantly of carbon and hydrogen
(coal, wood, petroleum products) has a kindling temperature. Once
is reached, oxidation suddenly becomes burning, which
then proceeds to produce enough heat to maintain
the reaction until the supply of oxygen or fuel runs out, or until other influences
produce enough cooling effect
to quench the fire. Its
perhaps fortunate we have only 21 percent oxygen in our atmosphere, and that 78
percent is made up of nitrogen,
which wont combine with oxygen at any temperature normally reached by the
burning of other materials. We
dont often think of it in that way, but the nitrogen acts as a cooling agent.
A good part of the energy produced by
the burning of carbon and hydrogen in air is used up in heating the nitrogen.
In an atmosphere of 100 percent oxygen,
burning takes place at a greatly accelerated rate. Given such an atmosphere, a
wooden house that caught