Thermit is a trademark name for thermite, a mixture of aluminum
powder and iron oxide that produces an exothermic reaction when ignited. It is used in incendiary bombs and for welding. As a welding process, the use of Thermit dates from around 1900. Thermit welding (TW) is a fusion-welding process in which the heat for coalescence is produced by superheated molten metal from the chemical reaction of
Thermit. Filler metal is obtained from the liquid metal; and although the process is used for joining, it has more in common with casting than it does with welding.
Finely mixed powders of aluminum and iron oxide (in a 1:3 mixture), when ignited at a temperature of around 1300C (2300F), produce the following chemical.
The temperature from the reaction is around 2500C (4500F), resulting in superheated molten iron plus aluminum oxide that floats to the top as a slag and protects the iron from the atmosphere. In Thermit welding, the superheated iron (or steel if the mixture of powders is formulated accordingly) is contained in a crucible located above the joint to be
welded, as indicated by our diagram of theTWprocess in Figure 30.25. After the reaction is complete (about 30 s, irrespective of the amount of Thermit involved), the crucible is tapped and the liquid metal flows into a mold built specially to surround the weld joint. Because the entering metal is so hot, it melts the edges of the base parts, causing coalescence upon solidification. After cooling, the mold is broken away, and the gates and risers are removed by oxyacetylene torch or other method.
Application of Thermit Welding
Thermit welding has applications in joining of railroad rails , and repair of cracks in large steel castings and forgings such as ingot molds, large
diameter shafts, frames for machinery, and ship rudders. The surface of the weld in these applications is often sufficiently smooth so that no subsequent finishing is required.