The commercial uses of acetylene have been discussed in detail in the earlier post, Commercially Viable Uses of Acetylene – Part I. This is a continuation of the same topic. Acetylene production plants produce acetylene with various levels of purity. This purity level determines the range of applications where the gas can be used.
Commercial Uses of Acetylene
Acetylene is used for various purposes. For instance, acetylene black is an acetylene compound, which is used in dry-cell batteries. Other purposes of acetylene include:
- Carburization of Metals
- Acetylene is used in thermolysis of graphite oxide sheets. This has resulted in producing graphene electrodes that are highly conductive. The conductivity of these sheets is five times higher than the conductivity displayed by sheets fabricated via thermal reduction techniques.
- In yet another study, acetylene was successfully used to fabricate TiO2 nanotubes with self-organized layers.
- Acetylene can be used for molecular manufacturing by serving as carbon feedstock.
- Radiocarbon Dating
Carburization is the process of heat treating a metal to make it harder. Carbon is diffused onto the surface of the metal. This process takes place at very high temperatures allowing the carbon to get embedded into the molecules of the metal. In this process, a welding torch is used to dissipate the acetylene/ carbon. The ratio of acetylene to oxygen is much higher than usual. The flame of the torch is known as a carburizing welding flame. When the metal is exposed to the flame, some of the carbon form acetylene is absorbed by the metal. The same process can be conducted by creating a heated acetylene environment that allows the metal to absorb the carbon. The introduction of carbon into the metal surface makes the metal harder, as well as corrosion and wear resistant.
Low pressure carburizing is the process where steel is treated in vacuum to produce a high performing material. This is a highly accurate process performed with complete control over all parameters. Acetylene is preferred over other gases like methane or propane because the hydrocarbon present in it reacts with the steel efficiently. In addition, it does not produce unwanted byproducts of hydrocarbons or other elements. Grade A acetylene (having purity levels of 99.95% or higher) are preferred in these processes.
Acetylene is finding several uses in nanotechnology. Some of the research conducted in this area:
Acetylene was first used in the process of radiocarbon dating in 1949. A revolutionary discovery at that time, acetylene has been used as the counting gas for several decades now. Although, acetylene was the preferred gas used in these processes, it has recently been replaced by carbon dioxide among other preferred gases. This is due to the high levels of contamination caused by the usage of acetylene. This contamination not only provided inconsistent results, but also made the entire process more tedious. This change has provided improved results while also being more cost-efficient compared to the use of acetylene.
Acetylene is used in several other niche applications and processes that are still being researched or regulated. Processes are being developed that allow the gas to be used without any wastage. This has resulted in lowering the cost of acetylene, which in turn has expanded the scope of research and development conducted in this respect.
The uses of acetylene are being explored thoroughly with respect to all industries. It is very clear that acetylene can be used in nanotechnology among several other emerging fields of study. The coming years will see a massive adoption of acetylene for better production processes and results with reference to various products. For all these processes, the correct determination of the purity of acetylene is extremely important. This has resulted in quality control of acetylene. Thus, acetylene production plants and reliable acetylene manufacturers are the need of the hour.