June 20, 2007

Physical Chemistry Aspects of Thermite, Thermate, Iron-Aluminum-Rich Microspheres

Some Physical Chemistry Aspects of Thermite, Thermate, Iron-Aluminum-Rich Microspheres, the Eutectic, and the Iron-Sulfur System as Applied to the Demise of Three World Trade Center Buildings on 9/11/2001

Jerry Lobdill


It has been established through a study of the photographic and video evidence that there were a number of instances of white-hot areas that produced glowing liquid flows from window openings on the 80th to 82nd floor of WTC 2 that persisted for quite a number of seconds.

According to the NIST FAQ1 these events came within the last 7 minutes before WTC 2 began its collapse. White-hot temperatures cannot be produced by ordinary fires. These observations have therefore been conclusively shown to be incendiary events. This fact is inconsistent with any theory of collapse except controlled demolition. Yet the official story remains that the buildings were brought down by fires and damage to the structural members of the buildings resulting from the impact of the planes The WTC 7 wasn’t even hit by a plane, yet it is claimed that it was brought down by fires.

All three buildings, WTC 1, WTC 2 and WTC 7 were subjects of many video documents that remain today as some of the very best evidence for controlled demolition that we have. It is clear from the videos that explosives were used. The evidence for incendiary cutting of steel consists of the video evidence, the forensic evidence in the dust and rubble, and the testimony of eyewitness early responders and survivors who saw glowing molten metal flowing out of window openings.  This paper deals with the incendiary events and the forensic evidence that remains to prove that the official story is wrong. Specifically, this paper discusses the chemistry of iron-aluminum-rich microspheres that are found in the dust from the rubble, the chemical content of these microspheres and the physical chemistry of the iron-sulfur-oxygen system since sulfur is one of the omnipresent elements in the iron-aluminum-rich microspheres and was also found in a metallurgical study of structural iron from the WTC 72.

Dr. Steven Jones discovered the iron-aluminum-rich microspheres and has analyzed their elemental composition using XEDS analysis.3 This discovery, of recent date, is a very important addition to the body of evidence that disproves the official story. At the present time the interpretation of these microspheres is still under discussion as is the composition of the incendiary they imply.


About Thermite

The evidence is overwhelming that thermite or a thermite-like mixture was used in the WTC 2 tower very shortly before the building fell. What was the purpose of this? Thermite has been used to weld railroad rail sections together and also to cut structural steel. It has also been used for military purposes such as destroying guns and other weapons, disabling engines, and to rapidly destroy cryptographic machines. It appears that in the WTC it was used to cut structural steel in an early phase of controlled demolition. This use implies that whatever the task, it must be completed in the last minute or so before the building begins to fall. Any chemical process that continues after the primary task is completed is simply an unavoidable sequela of the primary purpose.

An excellent article on thermite is posted in wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermite#Types.

There are a number of possible reactions that could produce large amounts of heat that could be used to melt (cut) steel. For example,

Fe2O3 + 2Al _ Al2O3 + 2Fe

3FeO + 2Al _ Al2O3 + 3Fe

3Fe3O4 + 8Al _ 4Al2O3 + 9Fe

3CuO + 2Al _ Al2O3 + 3Cu


The observations of Barnett, Biederman, and Sisson (BB&S) (See Footnote 2) describe sulfidation of some structural steel from WTC 7. They say:

Rapid deterioration of the steel was a result of heating with oxidation in combination with intergranular melting due to the presence of sulfur. The formation of the eutectic mixture of iron oxide and iron sulfide lowers the temperature at which liquid can form in this steel. This strongly suggests that the temperatures in this region of the steel beam approached ~1000 C, forming the eutectic liquid by a process similar to making a “blacksmith’s weld” in a hand forge.”9

And they conclude:

The severe corrosion and subsequent erosion of Samples 1 and 210 are a very unusual event. No clear explanation for the source of the sulfur has been identified. The rate of corrosion is also unknown. It is possible that this is the result of long-term heating in the ground following the collapse of the buildings. It is also possible that the phenomenon started prior to collapse and accelerated the weakening of the steel structure.

We should take note of the fact that they are saying they have no idea of the rapidity of the sulfidation and oxidation process or when it began. They also seem to be aware of the fact that there were large volumes of red hot metal below the rubble piles. (This is rather interesting since NIST, their sponsor, claims they are unaware of any such thing.)11


About the iron-aluminum-rich microspheres

Dr. Jones13 found these microspheres in WTC dust that deposited in an apartment about 100 yards away from one of the towers. They contain Fe, Al, S, K, Mn and other elements in small percentages. Iron is a major component of these objects.

The spherical shape of the microspheres is caused by surface tension acting on tiny molten droplets. This is the only mechanism by which the spherical shape can be explained. Therefore, these microspheres are proof that molten iron was produced in the process that caused the demise of the WTC towers, a remarkable fact that does not fit the official story. Some of these microspheres are hollow, and Dr. Jones has determined that the inside surface of these spheres contain sulfur. This is consistent with a molten droplet containing some gaseous sulfur. The physics of this situation is the same as for bubbles. The surface tension and the internal gas pressure cause the radius of the bubble to adjust to balance these two forces.


This paper has discussed some physical chemistry aspects of thermite and thermate and shown how science explains the existence of iron-aluminum-rich microspheres, why some microspheres are hollow, and why the metallurgical forensic study produced the results it did. The thermodynamic analysis has provided an understanding of how much thermite is needed to cut away a given amount of steel at 100% efficiency. The complexity of the chemistry involved has been illuminated.

These analyses enhance our understanding of the evidence that proves the use of incendiary devices in demolition of the WTC buildings.

Read more at the Journal of 9/11 Studies: