Theories that Aluminothermic Materials Were Used to Destroy the Twin Towers
The idea that thermite or similar preparations were used exclusively or in combination with other methods to destroy the Twin Towers remained unexamined for several years after the attack, despite its merits.
Aluminothermic reactions are exothermic chemical reactions in which aluminum is oxidized while an oxide of another metal is reduced. Although high temperatures are required to initiate such reactions, they are easily self-sustaining once started due to the heat they generate. The most common example of an aluminothermic reaction is thermite, in which powdered aluminum reacts with an iron oxide. Because aluminum has a greater affinity for oxygen than iron, oxygen is transferred from the iron oxide to the aluminum, releasing a great deal of energy and leaving behind molten iron and aluminum oxide.
|The spout of orange molten metal and rising white smoke emerging form the South Tower have the appearance of a thermite reaction.|
Professor Steven Jones has noted that a number of features evident both before and after the falls of the Towers fit the theory that thermite was used. These include:
- A spout of orange molten metal seen just before the South Tower's fall in videos of the Tower's north face around the crash zone
- Reports of molten metal in the remarkably hot rubble of Ground Zero
- High levels of metals found in aluminothermic incendiaries -- such as manganese, zinc, and barium -- in samples of World Trade Center dust
- Remains of the Towers' structural steel showing severe corrosive attack involving sulfur
- Minute solidified droplets of previously molten iron in samples of World Trade Center dust
- Pieces of active nano-engineered aluminothermic chips in samples of World Trade Center dust
|An iron-rich sphere found in dust form the Twin Towers. The solidified droplet indicates temperatures in excess of the melting point of iron (2795ºF).|
Basic thermite preparations can be modified and augmented in various ways to change their properties. The fineness of the aluminum powder determines the speed of the reaction. The use of ultra-fine aluminum powder gives the reaction an explosive quality, resulting in 'super-thermites'. The addition of sulfur in preparations called thermates enhances the ability of the reaction to cut through steel.
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.
Because there are many possible types of pyrotechnics that exploit the energy-dense thermite reaction, the architects of the World Trade Center demolition might have relied entirely on such materials to attack the structures in several different ways, as is suggested by this hypothetical blasting scenario.