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Calcium carbide and Tianjin

Dear Reader,

It has come to my attention that an almighty explosion has occurred in China. It has been reported that the site was used for the storage of calcium carbide and other chemicals. Some of you might want to know what calcium carbide is, it is a chemical formed in electric arc furnaces from graphite and limestone (calcium carbonate).

In contrast to aluminium carbide when it is reacted with water it forms acetylene rather than methane. If it was a simple carbide with carbon four minus ions (C4-) then it would be expected to form methane when it is treated with a source of protons. Instead it forms ethyne (acetylene) when it is treated with water.

This suggests that it contains C22- ions rather than simpler C4- ions, this formation of non-methane hydrocarbons from metal carbides is not unique. It has been reported that uranium monocarbide (UC) forms a host of different hydrocarbons when it is treated with water.

I hope to be able to write more about calcium carbide soon




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