Pyrotechnic composition of metal powder, which serves as fuel, and metal oxide / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thermite (/ˈθɜːrmt/)[1] is a pyrotechnic composition of metal powder and metal oxide. When ignited by heat or chemical reaction, thermite undergoes an exothermic reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction. Most varieties are not explosive, but can create brief bursts of heat and high temperature in a small area. Its form of action is similar to that of other fuel-oxidizer mixtures, such as black powder.

A thermite mixture using iron (III) oxide

Thermites have diverse compositions. Fuels include aluminium, magnesium, titanium, zinc, silicon, and boron. Aluminium is common because of its high boiling point and low cost. Oxidizers include bismuth(III) oxide, boron(III) oxide, silicon(IV) oxide, chromium(III) oxide, manganese(IV) oxide, iron(III) oxide, iron(II,III) oxide, copper(II) oxide, and lead(II,IV) oxide.[2]

The reaction, also called the Goldschmidt process, is used for thermite welding, often used to join railway tracks. Thermites have also been used in metal refining, disabling munitions, and in incendiary weapons. Some thermite-like mixtures are used as pyrotechnic initiators in fireworks.