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Can wood melt if

  1. May 11, 2005 #1
    Can wood melt if....

    dont tell me like you cant do that im just talkin in like IF you can

    now if you get a piece of wood into space, and heat it, without oxygen it can't burn so will it melt? or bend or something? or just do nothing
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 11, 2005 #2

    brewnog

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    Can you say 'charcoal'? :smile:
     
  4. May 11, 2005 #3

    Gokul43201

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    What brewnog is talking about, in his usual cryptic style, is the destructive distillation of wood. Wood will not melt. What happens is that the long-chain organic molecules in wood decompose into primarily carbon (charcoal) and methanol (along with other by products). And this does not require air (oxygen), so it will happen far out in space as well.
     
  5. May 12, 2005 #4

    Andrew Mason

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    And this lowers the ignition point. So if you brought the wood back from space, the heat of reentry could ignite it. That is one reason (of many) we don't build spacecraft out of wood.

    AM
     
  6. May 12, 2005 #5

    brewnog

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    Interesting stuff. Approximately what might you expect the ignition point would drop to?

    Ha, yes. It's a pity because I think a behemoth oak shuttle would have a certain aesthetic quality to it...
     
  7. May 12, 2005 #6

    Andrew Mason

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    It depends. It can get down to 200-250 C I believe. The phenomenon is called pyrolysis. Wood exposed to long term heat from being too close to hot chimneys (particularly uninsulated stovepipes) can ignite from just the chimney heat eventually. I had a case once of a house fire caused by improper placement of a woodburning furnace flue (2 inches from some studs). The whole house went up. Interesting case.

    Not for long.

    AM
     
  8. May 12, 2005 #7

    ohwilleke

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    If you had a multi-stage shuttle you can have a wooden one take it to a certain altitude (like the Spruce Goose) which would then deploy a next stage shuttle the rest of the way.
     
  9. May 17, 2005 #8
    i didnt understand a word either of you said ill just leave it at charcoal :smile:
     
  10. May 17, 2005 #9

    Integral

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    Place a wood chip in a tightly sealed can with a single small hole in the lid. Then apply heat, the air in the can will be (for the most part) driven out by the heavier vapors produced by the hot wood. Once the process is under way you can burn the gases as they exit the can by holding a match to the hole in the lid. The vapors inside the can will not ignite due to a lack of Oxygen. What is left inside, after the flame goes out, is charcoal.
     
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