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Thermite Reaction

Last updated: May 13, 2020

What Does Thermite Reaction Mean?

A thermite reaction is a general name for an exothermic (heat-releasing) reaction between ferrous oxides and aluminum (generally in powder form). This mixture of aluminum and iron oxide, also called thermite, is known for its ability to produce extreme heat upon combustion. While most thermite mixtures are not explosive, they can create brief bursts of heat and energy (sparks) in small areas that can pose a safety hazard.


Corrosionpedia Explains Thermite Reaction

While thermite is usually manufactured, it can be produced accidentally if the wrong types of metallic compounds are combined. Therefore, thermite reactions can be a concern in the paints and coatings industry, where metallic coatings are sometimes used to coat metallic objects.

The marine industry, for example, typically uses aluminum-based coatings on structural steel. While aluminum coatings are regarded for their mechanical integrity and corrosion resistance, there is a concern that rusted steel on aluminum can encourage thermite reactions. It is thought that the presence of rust with aluminum, in sufficient proportions, can generate enough heat to cause a spark.

Related Question
Does aluminum rust?

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