9 - 1 1 R e s e a r c h aluminothermics at the WTC * essays

Wake Up and Smell the Aluminothermic Nanocomposite Explosives

As Documentation of Thermitic Materials
in the WTC Twin Towers Grows,
Official Story Backers Ignore, Deny, Evade, and Dissemble

Jim Hoffman
Version 1.0, April 3, 2009


The obliteration of the Twin Towers was the centerpiece of the event that launched the 'War on Terror'. Shocking on multiple levels, the events were especially traumatic for Americans, being the first bombing on the US mainland in modern history that killed thousands of people -- civilians -- in one day. Given the collective psychological trauma of the attack, it is not surprising that public discourse would remain free of observations that the destruction of the Twin Towers bore obvious features of controlled demolitions. Early candid public remarks by reporters and demolition experts where quickly retracted or forgotten. Passage of the USA PATRIOT Act and the invasion of Afghanistan would proceed apace.

By 2003 the United States had occupations of two countries, and an international reputation as a rogue state all resting on a shaky-at-best collapse theory whose principal alternative hypothesis -- controlled demolition with pre-planted pyrotechnics -- had not even been tested by the straightforward forensic analysis of debris for residues of such materials.

By early 2009, the residue testing that NIST refused to do had been done by independent researchers, and reported on in a peer-reviewed chemistry journal. Small bi-layered chips, found consistently in dust samples, have layers of red nano-engineered material that is clearly aluminothermic: it has sub-micron-diameter particles of largely of elemental aluminum, and smaller crystalline grains of primarily Fe2O3. On ignition, the chips produce temperatures above the melting point of iron, leaving tiny iron droplets matching the residues of commercial thermite pyrotechnics.

The publication of these results should be astounding to anyone who uncritically accepted the collapse explanations in TV documentaries and never looked seriously at any of the several bodies of evidence for controlled demolition.

The NIST investigation, having posted its Final Report with its absurd Building 7 joint-breaking-thermal-expansion theory in late 2008 and FAQ by Christmas, closed its doors before the independent researchers published their findings of active aluminothermic materials in WTC dust in a mainstream scientific journal; but not before they publicized findings of aluminothermic residues in the same dust samples; and not before they extracted from NIST a series of public statements, in press conferences and in written responses to requests for correction (RFCs), about the conduct of their inquiry into the cause of the skyscrapers' total destruction.

ABEL: ... what about that letter where NIST said it didn’t look for evidence of explosives?

NEWMAN: Right, because there was no evidence of that.

ABEL: But how can you know there’s no evidence if you don’t look for it first?

NEWMAN: If you’re looking for something that isn’t there, you’re wasting your time....

--Conversation between a reporter and a NIST spokesperson. source

As a result, NIST spokespersons are on the record saying they did not test for pyrotechnics, and offering rationales for failing to perform such tests. Those rationale -- or rationalizations -- summarized toward the end of this essay, include the assertion that testing for pyrotechnics "would not necessarily have been conclusive". That is partially true: failing to find pyrotechnic residues wouldn't rule out demolition, since demolition might have been implemented using an untraceable fuel such as hydrogen gas. But finding abundant and distributed pyrotechnic explosive residues would conclusively favor demolition -- particularly given the persuasive deductive arguments showing that the features of the buildings' destruction are incompatable with a purely gravity-driven collapse.

The following timeline is narrowly focused on the emergence of public evidence indicating the use of aluminothermic pyrotechnics, ranging from incendiaries to high-explosives, in the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7, and on the way official bodies -- particular NIST -- treated that evidence.



2002.May: FEMA Issues Final Report

Appendix C of report discloses extreme corrosive attack on steel

Building on earlier reports, such as this December 2001 letter in JOM , the appendix describes a phenomenon of thick steel members reduced to perforated and paper-thin shapes by some unknown mechanism.

The severe corrosion and subsequent erosion of Samples 1 and 2 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. A detailed study into the mechanisms of this phenomenon is needed to determine what risk, if any, is presented to existing steel structures exposed to severe and long-burning fires.

2005.June.23: NIST Releases Twin Towers Draft Report

Draft report avoids subject of explosives and demolition entirely

The draft copy of NIST's Final Report on the Twin Towers, critiqued here, avoids the subject of controlled demolition and explosives entirely. It even avoids mention of the sulfidated steel described in the FEMA Report. While modeling the jetliner engines down to the blade, the Report avoids examining any events whatsoever after the points in time at which it alleges each Tower was "poised for collapse".

2005.September: Public Comments

Letters to NIST request consideration of evidence of explosives and incendiaries

The following excerpt of a letter submitted to NIST during its public comment period, like several of the letters, requested that NIST examine the evidence of explosives and incendaries.

... please prove that [you are not involved in the cover-up] by including in the final report the following:
  • modeling of how the collapse was able to proceed through dozens of structurally intact floors: please include analyses of both preservation of momentum and sufficiency of the potential energy available and show that the extreme speed of the collapses was possible without external energy used to break the structures;
  • what caused the collapses to be so symmetrical in spite of the fires and impact damage having been anything but;
  • what forces and energies pulverized the non-metallic materials of the towers so completely;
  • what caused the explosions in the lobby of at least the North Tower as well as the widely reported explosions in the basement: if you say it was the jet fuel, please include calculations of how big a pressure it was able to cause on various floors as it went down the elevator shafts, and how much oxygen was needed for that pressure increase to take place;
  • what caused the extremely hot spots in the rubble seen in the NASA measurements; and,
  • what caused the vaporization (!) of some of the steel of WTC7 of which Prof. Astaneh-Asl has told in public?

-Yli-Karjanmaa, Finland

2005.September: NIST Releases Twin Towers Final Report

Report claims that NIST found no evidence of explosives

NIST's Final Report, released after a short public comment period in which the agency received scores of comments asking them to consider evidence of controlled demolition, has exactly three sentences on the subject:

NIST found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives planted prior to September 11, 2001. NIST also did not find any evidence that missiles were fired at or hit the towers. Instead, photos and videos from several angles clearly showed that the collapse initiated at the fire and impact floors and the collapse progressed from the initiating floors downward, until the dust clouds obscured the view. (p 146/196)

NIST's derisive response, which immediately follows the Report's only mention of explosives and controlled demolition with the ideas that missiles rather than planes hit the Towers, is an example of the classic disinformation technique of discrediting by association.

2006.August.30: NIST Posts FAQ

NIST explains orange glowing metal as molten aluminum with organic material

NIST finally addresses the orange molten metal spouting from the South Tower almost a year after its Final Report, with the strained explanation that the orange color is from burning hydrocarbons mixed with molten aluminum.

11. Why do some photographs show a yellow stream of molten metal pouring down the side of WTC2 that NIST claims was aluminum from the crashed plane although aluminum burns with a white glow?

NIST reported (NCSTAR 1-5A) that just before 9:52 a.m., a bright spot appeared at the top of a window on the 80th floor of WTC 2, four windows removed from the east edge on the north face, followed by the flow of a glowing liquid. This flow lasted approximately four seconds before subsiding. Many such liquid flows were observed from near this location in the seven minutes leading up to the collapse of this tower. There is no evidence of similar molten liquid pouring out from another location in WTC 2 or from anywhere within WTC 1.

Photographs, and NIST simulations of the aircraft impact, show large piles of debris in the 80th and 81st floors of WTC 2 near the site where the glowing liquid eventually appeared. Much of this debris came from the aircraft itself and from the office furnishings that the aircraft pushed forward as it tunneled to this far end of the building. Large fires developed on these piles shortly after the aircraft impact and continued to burn in the area until the tower collapsed.

NIST concluded that the source of the molten material was aluminum alloys from the aircraft, since these are known to melt between 475 degrees Celsius and 640 degrees Celsius (depending on the particular alloy), well below the expected temperatures (about 1,000 degrees Celsius) in the vicinity of the fires. Aluminum is not expected to ignite at normal fire temperatures and there is no visual indication that the material flowing from the tower was burning.

Pure liquid aluminum would be expected to appear silvery. However, the molten metal was very likely mixed with large amounts of hot, partially burned, solid organic materials (e.g., furniture, carpets, partitions and computers) which can display an orange glow, much like logs burning in a fireplace. The apparent color also would have been affected by slag formation on the surface.

NIST calls thermite 'an unlikely substance for achieving a controlled demolition'

NIST's first document to address aluminothermics employs a straw-man tactic seen repeatedly in the agency's skirting calls to investigate explosives: display some calculations to suggest that a scenario is unlikely in order to hide false assumptions that render the scenario irrelevant to the events of 9/11. Even assuming the following estimate is correct, it's meaningless as a measure of the performance of nano-thermites optimized for high pressure.

12. Did the NIST investigation look for evidence of the WTC towers being brought down by controlled demolition? Was the steel tested for explosives or thermite residues? The combination of thermite and sulfur (called thermate) "slices through steel like a hot knife through butter."

NIST did not test for the residue of these compounds in the steel.

The responses to questions number 2, 4, 5 and 11 demonstrate why NIST concluded that there were no explosives or controlled demolition involved in the collapses of the WTC towers.

Furthermore, a very large quantity of thermite (a mixture of powdered or granular aluminum metal and powdered iron oxide that burns at extremely high temperatures when ignited) or another incendiary compound would have had to be placed on at least the number of columns damaged by the aircraft impact and weakened by the subsequent fires to bring down a tower. Thermite burns slowly relative to explosive materials and can require several minutes in contact with a massive steel section to heat it to a temperature that would result in substantial weakening. Separate from the WTC towers investigation, NIST researchers estimated that at least 0.13 pounds of thermite would be required to heat each pound of a steel section to approximately 700 degrees Celsius (the temperature at which steel weakens substantially). Therefore, while a thermite reaction can cut through large steel columns, many thousands of pounds of thermite would need to have been placed inconspicuously ahead of time, remotely ignited, and somehow held in direct contact with the surface of hundreds of massive structural components to weaken the building. This makes it an unlikely substance for achieving a controlled demolition.

Analysis of the WTC steel for the elements in thermite/thermate would not necessarily have been conclusive. The metal compounds also would have been present in the construction materials making up the WTC towers, and sulfur is present in the gypsum wallboard that was prevalent in the interior partitions.

2006.August.31: Jones Responds To NIST FAQ

Experiments disprove NIST explanation of orange glow as aluminum

Shortly after NIST published its FAQ with its hypothesis attempting to explain the orange-glowing material spouting from the South Tower, Steven Jones performed experiments falsifying NIST's hypothesis.

NIST says that flowing aluminum with partially burned organic materials mixed in, "can display an orange glow." But will it really do this? I decided to do an experiment to find out.

We melted aluminum in a steel pan using an oxy-acetylene torch.

Then we added plastic shavings -- which immediately burned with a dark smoke, as the plastic floated on top of the hot molten aluminum. Next, we added wood chips (pine, oak and compressed fiber board chips) to the liquid aluminum. Again, we had fire and smoke, and again, the hydrocarbons floated on top as they burned. We poured out the aluminum and all three of us observed that it appeared silvery, not orange! We took photos and videos, so we will have the recorded evidence as these are processed. (I have now attached two videos showing clearly the silvery appearance of the flowing aluminum.) Of course, we saw a few burning embers, but this did not alter the silvery appearance of the flowing, falling aluminum.

Jones describes additional experiments, and explains how organics in molten aluminum are like oil and water: the organics separate and don't impart an glow to the aluminum.

2006.October.18: NIST Report Author Speaks at University of Texas

Lead engineer of NIST investigation denies molten metal

Following his talk on NIST's then-ongoing investigation, speaker John Gross was questioned about the reports of molten metal. In the following exchange, Gross pleads ignorance of the reports.

QUESTIONER: I'm curious about, um, the pool of molten steel, that was found in the bottom of the towers.

GROSS: Please tell me about it. Have you seen it?

QUESTIONER: Not personally, but eyewitnesses there found huge pools of molten steel beneath the towers, and ah, scientists, some scientists don't think that the collapse of the buildings could have melted all that steel, and a physics professor analyzed some of that steel, Steven Jones, and he found evidence of, a, thermate residues which would have explained how the buildings collapsed by means of pre-planted explosives. So, have you analyzed the steel for those residues?

GROSS: First of all, let's go back to your basic premise that there was, ah, a pool of molten steel. I know absolutely nobody, no eyewitnesses have said so, nobody whose produced it. I was on the site, I was on the steelyards, so, I don't know that that's so. Steel melts at about two thousand six hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Um, I think it's pretty difficult to get that kind of temperatures in, ah, fire. So, I don't know the basis -- I can't address your question if I don't know the basis.

QUESTIONER: Well NASA pictures, ah, thermal imaging show those sorts of temperatures.

GROSS: Would you send them to me?


The reports of molten metal are numerous and were made by some of Gross' own colleagues, and the NASA thermal images that Gross implied he'd never seen have been featured on the USGS.gov website since 2001.

2007.April.16: Group Submits RFC to NIST

Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice (STJ) faults NIST's refusal to examine evidence of explosives

A 32-page request for corrections submitted to NIST asserts that NIST's Final Report on the Twin Towers violates information quality standards and harms the interests of the petitioners -- scientists Steven Jones and Kevin Ryan, architect Richard Gage, engineer Frank Legge, 9/11 family members Bob Mcllvane and Bill Doyle, and the group Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice. Among the facts cited by the letter as demonstrating bias in the Report is NIST's statement that it "did not test for the residue of [explosives] in the steel".

The group says that a different conclusion better fits the evidence - they believe that pre-positioned explosives were responsible for the destruction of the WTC towers. "It sounds outlandish," Jones says, "But when you look at the evidence, it fits. In fact, many of the physical features of these events -- such as their rapidity, totality, and the observed iron-rich spheres in the WTC dust -- fit the demolition hypothesis and are difficult to reconcile with any of the existing collapse explanations."

2007.June.29: NIST Posts Update on WTC7 Investigation

NIST to addresses controlled demolition of WTC7 with single-blast scenario

In a one-page press release, NIST discloses that it will be exploring "hypothetical blast events" in the same breath that it asserts that it "found no evidence of a blast or controlled demolition event".

Simulations of hypothetical blast events show that no blast event played a role in the collapse of WTC 7. NIST concluded that blast events did not occur, and found no evidence whose explanation required invocation of a blast event. Blast from the smallest charge capable of failing a single critical column would have resulted in a sound level of 130 dB to 140 dB at a distance of at least half a mile. There were no witness reports of such a loud noise, nor was such a noise heard on the audio tracks of video recordings of the WTC 7 collapse.

2007.October.25: Appeal Filed with NIST, Pursuant to RFC

NIST apprised of chemistry of aluminothermics, disabused of notion that testing prone to inconclusive results

In this 16-page reply to NIST's reply to the RFC, the signing scientists, engineers, and 9/11 family members take NIST to task for claiming that explosives testing might have been inconclusive.

NIST has also refused to test for the presence of explosive residue because “such tests would not necessarily have been conclusive.” However, as discussed in detail in the Request and in this document, NIST conducted many tests that were “not necessarily conclusive.” Examples of such allegedly inconclusive tests are the physical steel temperature tests and the physical fire resistance tests. Clearly NIST thought these physical temperature and fire resistance tests, at the very least, might have been instructive on some aspect of the collapses. Why then would NIST not conduct a very simple lab test for the presence of explosive residue, even assuming the test would not necessarily have been conclusive? More importantly, though, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which a test for explosive residues would not be conclusive. If explosive residues are found in WTC debris, there is an extremely high likelihood that explosives were in fact used. Consider that Materials Engineering, Inc. has this to say about its thermite residue tests:

When thermite reaction compounds are used to ignite a fire, they produce a characteristic burn pattern, and leave behind evidence. These compounds are rather unique in their chemical composition, containing common elements such as copper, iron, calcium, silicon and aluminum, but also contain more unusual elements, such as vanadium, titanium, tin, fluorine and manganese. While some of these elements are consumed in the fire, many are also left behind in the residue. ...

MEi has conducted Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) on minute traces of residue, identifying the presence of these chemical elements. The results, coupled with visual evidence at the scene, provide absolute certainty that thermite reaction compounds were present, indicating the fire was deliberately set, and not of natural causes.

(See http://www.materials-engr.com/ns96.html ) (emphasis added)

Unless NIST can explain a plausible scenario that would produce inconclusive explosive residue test results, its stated reason for not conducting such tests is wholly unpersuasive.

Moreover, NIST must reconcile its statement that it found “no corroborating evidence to suggest that explosives were used” with its statement that it did not test for explosive residue which, if found, would suggest explosives were used. This point was clearly made in the original Request, but was ignored in NIST’s Response. The fact therefore remains that it is extremely easy to “find no evidence” when one is not looking for evidence. Additionally, NIST must detail the initial evidence that would suggest that explosives were used which it believes needs “corroborating” before an explosive demolition hypothesis will be considered. If NIST meant to say it found “no evidence to suggest that explosives were used” then it must revise its report accordingly. Stating that NIST found “no corroborating evidence” suggests or implies that there exists a body of initial evidence that needs further “corroboration.” NIST must detail this existing body of evidence that needs further corroboration in order to comply with the DQA and related guidelines.

2008.August.2: Article Exposes NIST Nanothermite Connections

Ryan shows numerous connections between NIST authors and the explosive nanocomposites NIST refuses to acknowledge

Noting NIST's struggles to settle on a theory explaining the collapse of the three WTC skyscrapers, Ryan focuses on their persistent refusal to test for incendiaries -- a violation of the national standard for fire investigation.

But despite a number of variations in NIST’s story, it never considered explosives or pyrotechnic materials in any of its hypotheses. This omission is at odds with several other striking facts; first, the requirement of the national standard for fire investigation (NFPA 921), which calls for testing related to thermite and other pyrotechnics, and second, the extensive experience NIST investigators have with explosive and thermite materials.

One of the most intriguing aspects of NIST’s diversionary posture has been their total lack of interest in explosive or pyrotechnic features in their explanations. Despite the substantial evidence for the use of explosives at the WTC (Jones 2006, Legge and Szamboti 2007), and the extensive expertise in explosives among NIST investigators (Ryan 2007), explosives were never considered in the NIST WTC investigation. Only after considerable criticism of this fact did NIST deign to add one small disclaimer to their final report on the towers, suggesting they found no evidence for explosives.

Leading Ryan's list of connections of NIST to nano-thermites is the agency's collaboration with LLNL, in the late 90s, to test and characterize sol-gel preparations of high-power thermitic materials. Ryan goes on to list individuals and organizations simultaneously involved with NIST and the development of energetic nanocomposities such as super-thermites.

Leaders of the NIST investigation can't be ignored when considering, as any genuine investigator would, who had the means to carry out the crime and to cover it up.

To [the end of considering who had access to the buildings the technologies that destroyed them, and who produced clearly false reports] we should note that NIST had considerable connections to nano-thermites, both before and during the WTC investigation. It is therefore inexplicable why NIST did not consider such materials as an explanation for the fires that burned on 9/11, and long afterward at Ground Zero. This fact would not be inexplicable, of course, if those managing the NIST investigation knew to not look, or test, for such materials.

2008.August.21: NIST Releases WTC 7 Report Draft

Draft admits that NIST did no physical testing

NIST releases its WTC 7 draft Report in a press conference in which Shyam Sunder is questioned by attendees on the possible use of incendiaries and explosives. Although Kevin Ryan's essay about nanocomposite explosives and NIST's connections to them had recently been publicized, Sunder continues to talk as if the only aluminothermic materials are slow-burning incendiaries.

In this exchange, a questioner points out that thermite incendaries wouldn't make the noise postulated by NIST's hypothetical blast scenario, then questions the illogic of supposing that a huge explosive charge would be required to cause a failure that NIST claims happened due to fire alone.

QUESTIONER I think that the idea that thermate cut through the beams -- it wasn't actually an explosion that caused the beams to be cut, so that could probably be done a lot more quietly, right?


QUESTIONER: And did you look at Steven Jones' work?

SUNDER: Well, that, the issue of thermate did not ah, even reach, ah, in our judgement, a, a level of importance sufficient to in fact do a detailed analysis. We could rule it out fairly easily, for several reasons. Uh, one, um, in order for a thermate reaction to take place, there has to be, a, materials, and of course, building materials have all of the things that are required for thermite or thermate, and if you look at the amount of thermite or thermate that would be needed to build this[sic] bring this building down you would have had to place about a hundred pounds of thermite right in proximity to the column, and it had to have always adhere to the column, because what thermite does is actually melts the steel, so somebody has to keep pushing it so the thermite continues to be sticking to the steel -- this vertical column -- until it actually, a, collapses. Ah, and in order to get that kind amount of materials into the building and to actually place it, and for this reaction to take place, is unlikely to actually have happened.

QUESTIONER: One last follow-up, The part of that that I have trouble with is that if you say the building came down without any explosives at all, ah, then isn't it possible that you wouldn't need a lot of explosives to bring it down, if it came down with no explosives at all?

SUNDER: Repeat your question.

QUESTIONER: If you're saying the building came down with no explosives whatsoever; ah, isn't it possible that it could come down with a smaller number of explosives?

SUNDER: No. A, the big difference is that fire is a persistent assault on the structure.

QUESTIONER: Couldn't they work together?


QUESTIONER: The explosives and the fire.

SUNDER: Well let me put it this way. There is a very elegant and straightforward to understand proceed method that causes this building to come down, and that's the issue of thermal expansion. It's very straightforward, it's based on sound science, and it is consistent with all the observations we have, and it's consistent with the fact that the fires were on the lower floors of the building.

QUESTIONER: But it had never happened before, right?

SUNDER: But the physics is consistent, it's sound, it's been analyzed, and we have the results, and we are, we are very comfortable with our findings.

In a later exchange, Shane Geiger notes the presence of aluminothermic residues in dust samples.

GEIGER: ... and you re-iterated from your Twin Towers report that NIST has stated that it found no corroborating evidence to suggest that explosives were used to bring down the buildings. Now, in the very next sentence you ...

SUNDER: Let's ...

GEIGER: ... admit that NIST did not conduct tests for explosive residue. So of course it's very difficult to .. to find what you're not looking for.

VOICE: OK, we're going to move on.

GEIGER: .. iron spheres which are characteristic of the dust and can be seen on the United States Geological Survey website. Ah, these are found in every single sample of the dust to date, including all the samples that R.J. Lee group took a look at. I actually have ...

VOICE: We're going to ...

GEIGER: I have a friend who's found these in his sample of dust, and I think this is ... there's enough of these out there -- there's a billion pounds of World Trade Center dust at the landfill on Staten Island. I think its pretty fair to say that NIST could, if NIST were interested in doing so, that NIST take a look at these spheres. Inside these spheres, Dr. Steven Jones is claiming that there is evidence of a thermite reaction.

VOICE: Move on.

GEIGER: I certainly would like to hear about your research on this, other than bare assertions.

SUNDER: Yes, very quickly, there are a thousand pages of reports right there on the website. I urge you to read it, understand it, and when you've understood it, we can have a discussion.

2008.September.10: Whistleblower Reviews NIST WTC7 Report

NIST's pattern of denying and ignoring evidence detailed

Kevin Ryan chronicles a pattern of evasion by NIST which is especially stark on evidence pointing toward aluminothermics.

Molten metal? What molten metal?

NIST, in its final report on WTC 7, ignored all of the evidence relating to molten metal, even though numerous reliable witnesses spoke of the presence of molten metal at Ground Zero. These witnesses included Richard Garlock, a structural engineer at Leslie E. Robertson Associates, an engineering firm involved in the design of the towers and the clean up of the site, who said "Here WTC 6 is over my head. The debris past the columns was red-hot, molten, running." 10

The witnesses to molten metal also included University of California, Berkeley engineering professor Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl, who was the first scientist given access to the steel at ground zero. Dr. Astaneh-Asl referred to the WTC steel he found as "kind of melted. " 11 Years later, when asked again about his experience he clarified, "I saw melting of girders in World Trade Center." 12

There are many other reports of molten metal at ground zero, including quite a few from those who support the Bush Administration's ever-changing fire-induced collapse theories. There are also photos supporting the reports of molten metal. 13 But NIST continues to ignore all of this evidence in its new report.

Paper thin steel and sulfidation? What paper thin steel and sulfidation?

Since the WTC report from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) came out in 2002, the most intriguing aspect of the official stories given was the problem that the New York Times called "perhaps the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation." 14 This mystery referred to the extremely thinned pieces of steel discovered by FEMA investigators, and also by Astaneh-Asl. 15 These samples were found to exhibit sulfidation, and evidence of a eutectic formation, that could not be explained by any of the "fire-wise" professors.

Sivaraj Shyam Sunder did have to answer a question about [ the sulfidated steel discovered by FEMA ] in his recent press conference. Sunder simply said that those fire-wise professors had thought more about it, and told the BBC that it wasn't a mystery after all.

We can be sure that those professors did think more about it. But without the detailed study they originally called for, the deepest mystery remains officially unsolved.

Explosive thermite? What explosive thermite?

An actual explanation for the sulfidation and extreme thinning of steel has been offered by independent investigators, and is fully consistent with the alternative theory that NIST has avoided all these years.

When asked about thermite in the WTC 7 press conference, Sunder pretended that NIST was not aware of the explosive forms of this chemical mixture, called super-thermite or nano-thermite. Instead, Sunder claimed that thermite could not be applied adequately in order to serve the purpose of a deceptive demolition. Sunder's answer, apart from being vague and unsupported, is also in direct contradiction to the fact that a number of the NIST WTC investigation leaders had expert knowledge of nano-thermites, and that such materials can be sprayed onto surfaces like steel. 19

2008.September.15: Scientists and Engineers File RFC for NIST WTC 7 Draft

Letter submitted by 16 scientist, scholars, and engineers

The researchers highlight NIST's avoidance of the questions raised by the FEMA Report authors, and call for them to perform the required metallurgical analysis.

There are also several seemingly contradictory issues between the FEMA Building Performance Study Appendix C and the NIST WTC 7 Report, for which no explanations have been provided, and they are:

  • NIST states "No steel was recovered from WTC 7" while FEMA section C.2 shows that at least one piece of WTC 7 steel was tested, with the results being alarming, considering the highly unusual formation of a liquid eutectic, intergranular melting, and erosion. Features not seen before, by the experienced investigators, in steel subject to common office fires.
  • FEMA section C.3 Summary for Sample 1 states that the steel was heated to around 1,000º C. (1,800º F.), which is much hotter than the steel temperatures NIST is claiming to have caused the collapse, and seemingly far outside the ability of office fires to heat the steel. Additionally, this section states that steel liquefied at these temperatures, due to the formation of the eutectic, which would dramatically lower the usual 2750º F melting point temperature of the steel.
  • FEMA Section C.6 Suggestions for Future Research states "It is also possible that the intergranular melting, eutectic formation, and erosion phenomenon started prior to collapse and accelerated the weakening of the steel structure."

Why hasn't the "future research" been done, and the results from it published, especially when FEMA itself suggested that this melting and erosion may have started "prior to collapse"? NIST was charged with investigating the conditions that led to the collapse of WTC 7, and clearly something that possibly occurred prior to collapse and "accelerated the weakening of the steel structure" is something NIST should have investigated. NIST should revise the Report accordingly after it has performed the needed metallurgical analysis.

2008.November.11: NIST Releases WTC 7 Final Report

Almost identical to Draft Report, hides refusal to address explosives evidence behind 'Hypothetical Blast Scenario'

NIST's "hypothetical blast scenario", besides its straw man aspect of assuming that the column on which they blame the building's collapse would have to be cut by the noisy RDX instead of a charge with a different heat-to-pressure ratio, is inconsistent with their theory: How could they assume that a massive charge is needed to cause the failure of a column they say failed spontaneously?

Simulations of hypothetical blast events show that no blast event played a role in the collapse of WTC 7. NIST concluded that blast events did not occur, and found no evidence whose explanation required invocation of a blast event. Blast from the smallest charge capable of failing a single critical column would have resulted in a sound level of 130 dB to 140 dB at a distance of at least half a mile. There were no witness reports of such a loud noise, nor was such a noise heard on the audio tracks of video recordings of the WTC 7 collapse.

2008.December.18: NIST Publishes WTC7 FAQ

NIST repeats claim that thermite is unsuited to demolition

To defend its refusal to test for pyrotechnics, NIST provides precisely the same argument it did in the case of the Twin Towers, asserting that large quantities of thermite would be required and daunting technical obstacles would face a demolition, and claiming that testing for pyrotechnics "would not necessarily have been conclusive".

Is it possible that thermite or thermate contributed to the collapse of WTC 7?

NIST has looked at the application and use of thermite and has determined that its use to sever columns in WTC 7 on 9/11/01 was unlikely. Thermite is a combination of aluminum powder and a metal oxide that releases a tremendous amount of heat when ignited. It is typically used to weld railroad rails together by melting a small quantity of steel and pouring the melted steel into a form between the two rails. To apply thermite to a large steel column, approximately 0.13 lb of thermite would be needed to heat and melt each pound of steel. For a steel column that weighs approximately 1,000 lbs. per foot, at least 100 lbs. of thermite would need to be placed around the column, ignited, and remain in contact with the vertical steel surface as the thermite reaction took place. This is for one column … presumably, more than one column would have been prepared with thermite, if this approach were to be used.

It is unlikely that 100 lbs. of thermite, or more, could have been carried into WTC 7 and placed around columns without being detected, either prior to Sept. 11 or during that day. Given the fires that were observed that day, and the demonstrated structural response to the fires, NIST does not believe that thermite was used to fail any columns in WTC 7. Analysis of the WTC steel for the elements in thermite/thermate would not necessarily have been conclusive. The metal compounds also would have been present in the construction materials making up the WTC buildings, and sulfur is present in the gypsum wallboard used for interior partitions.

2009.March.24: Scientific Paper Shows Active Thermitics in Dust

Scientists show WTC dust samples contain chips of active nano-engineered 'super-thermite'

The paper Active Thermitic Material Discovered ... clearly demonstrates that tiny bi-layered chips found consistently in dust samples from the destruction of the Twin Towers contain active aluminothermic explosives in the form of a nano-engineered composite.

The conclusion of Active Thermitic Materials Discovered reads, in part:

  1. The primary elements (Al, Fe, O, Si, C) are typically all present in particles at the scale of tens to hundreds of nanometers, and detailed XEDS mapping shows intimate mixing.
  2. On treatment with methyl-ethyl ketone solvent, some segregation of components was observed. Elemental aluminum became sufficiently concentrated to be clearly identified in the pre-ignition material.
  3. Iron oxide appears in faceted grains roughly 100 nm across whereas the aluminum appears in plate-like structures. The small size of the iron oxide particles qualifies the material to be characterized as nano-thermite or super-thermite. Analysis shows that iron and oxygen are present in a ratio consistent with Fe2O3. The red material in all four WTC dust samples was similar in this way. Iron oxide was found in the pre-ignition material whereas elemental iron was not.
  4. From the presence of elemental aluminum and iron oxide in the red material, we conclude that it contains the ingredients of thermite.
  5. As measured using DSC, the material ignites and reacts vigorously at a temperature of approximately 430ºC, with a rather narrow exotherm, matching fairly closely an independent observation on a known super-thermite sample. The low temperature of ignition and the presence of iron-oxide grains less than 120 nm show that the material is not conventional thermite (which ignites at temperatures above 900ºC) but very likely a form of super-thermite.
  6. After igniting several red/gray chips in a differential scanning calorimeter run to 700ºC, we found numerous iron-rich spheres and spheroids in the residue, indicating that a very high-temperature reaction had occurred, since the iron-rich product clearly must have been molten to form these shapes. ...


The physical evidence reviewed here can be organized into five bodies of evidence which, in total, indicate the use of two types of aluminothermic pyrotechnics in destroying the WTC Twin Towers:

  • Incendiaries: similar to conventional thermite but with enhanced cutting power provided by additives such as sulfur and barium nitrate:
    1. A spout of orange-glowing molten metal from the South Tower
    2. Reports of pockets of molten metal in the rubble pile
    3. Severely eroded steelwork showing sulfidation
  • Explosives: thermitic nano-structured composite material, some with enhanced explosive power provided by a hydrocarbon-rich component:
    1. Residues in the form of iron-rich solidified droplets
    2. Unignited material as eggshell-thick chips with two or more layers

The actions of the official NIST WTC investigation reviewed here shows a pattern of ignoring, denying, and ridiculing evidence of the controlled demolition of the skyscrapers -- a pattern that becomes especially stark when the topic is narrowed to the use of aluminothermic materials to carry out the demolitions.

In NIST's draft Final Report on the Twin Towers, there was no mention of demolition even as a hypothesis, and no comment on whether they had performed any tests for residues of pyrotechnics. Their "probable collapse sequence" left the Towers "poised for collapse", but went no further, showing no interest in even pretending to understand the dynamics of the alleged "collapse" -- dynamics that speak of loudly of explosives.

In their revised Final Report, NIST gave the appearance of responding to public comments by adding a few sentences describing the pile-drive theory to its "probable collapse sequence", claiming that it "found no corroborating evidence to suggest that explosives were used to bring down the buildings", and pairing its only mention of demolition with the hoax theory that missiles instead of planes hit the Towers.

In its August 2006 FAQ, NIST finally addressed the South Tower's spout of glowing-orange metal, with a dubious theory that the color was caused by burning hydrocarbons mixed in with molten aluminum from plane parts. Although Steven Jones promptly demonstrated that molten aluminum and burning hydrocarbons don't mix, NIST has never revisited the issue.

In the same FAQ, NIST addressed the use of thermites for the first time by suggesting that a calculation about how much thermite would be needed to melt a given quantity of steel and a given length of the thick-walled columns found at the Towers' bases proves that the pyrotechnic is "an unlikely substance for achieving a controlled demolition". The straw-man scenario neither addresses the likely manner in which incendiaries were used, nor the existence of engineered forms of aluminothermics with power similar to high explosives, nor the use of explosives to destroy the buildings primarily through methods of attack other than cutting columns. Although NIST investigators were informed of the existence of explosive aluminothermics in formal correspondence, their subsequent FAQ on WTC 7 parroted the same straw-man scenario to rationalize its decision not to test for residues.

Heard at least three times from NIST -- once in each FAQ, and once in a reply to an RFC -- is the assertion that tests for explosives, if conducted, "would not necessarily have been conclusive". Imagine a detective giving that excuse for refusing to perform ballistics tests on a suspected murder weapon.

When confronted in a press conference with the fact that scientists had documented aluminothermic residues in World Trade Center dust, Shyam Sunder simply changed the subject, saying he would discuss the matter only after the questioner had read and understood NIST's thousand-page Report.

With the orange-glowing-aluminum theory disproved, NIST leaves the five bodies of physical evidence directly indicating the use of aluminothermic pyrotechnics unaddressed and begging to be investigated. It never so much as mentioned the phenomenon that the New York Times described as "perhaps the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation" and highlighted by the FEMA Report as needing "detailed study": the sulfidated and "evaporated" steel. Clearly intended to be the final word on the crux of the event that launched the "war that won't end in our lifetimes", the NIST 'investigation' calls for no further investigation of these or any of the other glaring anomalies in the collapse story.


When presented with evidence of explosives, NIST has done the opposite of investigating: It has denied, evaded, changed the subject, and produced straw-man arguments. The message is clear: don't be troubled by those pesky facts like explosives residues -- Sunder and his team of experts have what you need. "It's simple, straightforward, it's elegant, technical," and they're "comfortable with it".

Sunder's final remarks to the 2008 press conference wraps a blanket disqualification of "alternative theories" as incredible in a transparent appeal to authority:

But I will re-assert what I have said all along, that the findings that we have got we are very comfortable with. It's based on sound science; it's consistent with the observations; it's simple, straightforward; it's elegant, technical, it's understandable by people; and we looked as I said at all the alternative theories that were presented there only few that rose to be credible in our technical judgement. When we see evidence that in fact you have a robust science behind alternative theories we will look at them.

First of all we are technical experts, we all have impeccable technical credentials, both in the private sector experts who work with us and in the experts working at NIST, and I would say that the information that we have the science that we have and the findings that we have are incredibly conclusive in terms of the fact that fires in fact the primary cause of why World Trade Center Building 7 collapsed, Alternative theories are really, none of them have been found to be credible in terms of why the buildings collapsed, and in fact I would suggest that the, the public should really at this point recognize that the science is really behind what we have said.

If and when the destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7 is genuinely investigated by a government body, the principals will thank the independent investigators who spent years of their lives compiling detailed bodies of evidence and scientific analysis while being scorned and ridiculed on many fronts including NIST's "investigation". Before it serves its first subpoena, the new investigation will be well on its way to answering questions pertaining to the what, how, and who of the crime.

The what will be clear, based on the evidence already documented.

The how may be established through the development and testing of theories of the crime. That won't require a great deal of imagination, however, given the detail of the physical evidence already described, and the technologies of energetic materials and wireless detonation known to have been available to some in 2001.

The who will likely be the biggest unknown. How might investigators begin unravelling the web of complicity surrounding the perpetrators in order to identify suspects? Here are some questions they should consider:

  • Who had access to all parts of the buildings, and hence the ability to install explosives?
  • Who had access to the types of nano-engineered explosives whose fragments and residues are found in the World Trade Center dust? Given the connections between NIST and research into nano-structured aluminothermics, why has its WTC team acted as though such materials don't exist?
  • Who was behind attempts to redirect Steven Jones away from his investigation of World Trade Center dust?
  • Who has been working hand-in-glove with collapse story defenders by promoting and cultivating nonsense as 9-11 truth, supplying NIST with its key excuse for rejecting evidence? Why, for example, would a former Bush administration official proclaim that the Towers were demolished only to insist that no jetliners hit the Towers?
  • Who is behind the obvious agenda of the NIST investigation to present a ludicrous fairy tale as "incredibly conclusive findings", while systematically ignoring all evidence of the actual crime?
Copyright (c) Jim Hoffman and 911Research.WTC7.net 2009