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Well done, Tim!

A magnesium fire puts every motor sport historian in mind of the death of Jo Schlesser  in the French GP of 1968.  His RA302 Honda was largely made of magnesium; John Surtees refused to drive it.   Schlesser crashed and died when the car caught fire at Les Trois Freres corner and marshals, equipped only with water extinguishers, were driven back by explosions whenever they used them on the burning car.  I won't post the videos but they are out there.  

Magnesium normally reacts with oxygen to produce magnesium oxide as a thin layer on the surface of the metal that stops further corrosion, but burning magnesium vapourises.    Add water, you get steam, and a very rapid reaction between the two vapours that produces hydrogen, which then explodes in atmospheric oxygen.


This demonstration by firefighters of a magnesium fire shows what happens.   As the Chief says "Water pisses it off!" and he puts it out, as you did, with sand, excluding oxygen.




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It would have been better done to have cleaned out the chip bed and not caused the problem in the first place John. I have seen a large CNC mill in a shop with the table melted through from a Mag fire, and they had extinguishing equipment in place throughout the plant for just such a scenario.

The Boeing 777 project was delayed 6 months when an employee was grinding a small portion of a door frame made from triple 5 titanium, powder caught fire and caused  the frame section to ignite. Our parent company ATI, originally created and sold the triple5 and we were responsible for the machining tools and process to machine components made from it. Delayed our sales process for sure. I had customers dry honing and grinding parts oblivious to the fact titanium dust can ignite and spread in the same manner as magnesium, even more so. 

I new better but was too rushed to bother, my own fault.

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