Acetylene (C₂H₂) has a low moisture content and is the hottest burning flame in Oxyfuel welding, making it one of the most efficient gases to use for various welding and heating applications. These include gouging, hardening, bending, straightening, brazing, cutting, cleaning and more. It improves cut quality, increases cutting speed, and reduces oxygen, thus preventing metals from rusting.
Acetylene’s many uses cross a wide range of industries due to its efficiency. The automotive industry employs acetylene for brazing and low-pressure carburizing. There are also numerous fabricators and glass makers that use acetylene throughout their processes. Interestingly, there are two primary ways that acetylene is manufactured: chemical reactions using calcium carbide and a technique called thermal cracking.
The wet process of a calcium carbide chemical reaction involves adding water to calcium carbide granules, or the granules to water into a chamber. Like flour puffing out of a standing mixer on high-speed, it is important that the chemical reaction does not generate acetylene gas too quickly. This combination creates a solution that is continually stirred with a paddle to initiate a reaction, keeping granules moving so that they do not meet the highly explosive acetylene gas teeming off the top. As temperature is a factor when handling acetylene, it must be consistently monitored due to its explosivity. When water meets calcium carbide, it creates a high heat chemical reaction, which must be quenched and maintained. As acetylene rises like vapor from boiling water, it is cooled with water, leaving the chamber, and entering another.
Acetylene manufactured in this way produces a byproduct called calcium carbonate, also known as “lime.” Rather than ascending like acetylene, lime descends and is held in a separate chamber where water is removed. Lime is a chemical compound implemented in water treatment plants and road construction for asphalt and similar materials. Manufacturing acetylene with calcium carbide and water occurs at normal room temperatures, but thermal cracking cranks up the heat to alter atomic states.
Thermal cracking is a method of acetylene production, which essentially “cracks” the hydrocarbon atom bonds of oil and natural gas, separating and rebinding them to create different materials. This process implements burning, boiling, and diffusing, creating multiple byproducts that must be scrubbed and separated.
To begin the thermal cracking of natural gas atoms, combustion chambers preheat it to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas self-ignites and travels through a pipe where oxygen is added. The speed of the process is carefully regulated using a diffuser, keeping the heated natural gas and oxygen mixture from burning and shooting out of the burners toward the end of the pipeline, or from retreating and igniting the gas already within the pipeline. Traveling through various small channels, the gas comes out of a stove-like burner, emitting methane and other gases. Methane can be converted in acetylene when its atomic bonds “crack.” Acetylene, especially at high heats, must be cooled with water to deactivate the probability of combustion.
Acetylene, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon soot are all byproducts of this process and must be separated. A special solvent absorbs only the acetylene while carbon soot is scrubbed out. The solvent-acetylene solution is then boiled, where the acetylene rises and is captured in a tower. In both the chemical reaction and thermal cracking processes, acetylene is packaged in cylinders at 300 psi and dissolved in acetone to retract its ability to explode.
RMA manufactures industrial grade acetylene in our Salt Lake City plant and delivers the acetylene to our customers and several competitor gas suppliers throughout our distribution region. If you use acetylene in our region, it’s likely produced by RMA. Since the distribution and filling process is time intensive and acetylene is an extremely volatile gas, safety is our number one priority. We ensure that the refining process is in the hands of experienced, highly trained, and knowledgeable technicians who perform their work with the highest care for the sake of their own safety and the safety of others. RMA can supply your high purity industrial grade acetylene and atomic absorption grade acetylene and lime , available in multiple cylinder sizes or tanks.
We have multiple cylinder sizes available individually and in clusters