New Theory on World Trade Center Collapse Centers on Aluminum

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Source: AP

For those of you conspiracy theorists out there that don’t buy the fact that the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers collapsed due to overheated structural steel beams here’s an interesting new theory to ponder on a Friday.

Now, I must admit: while I haven’t completely given over to the conspiracy theorists’ dark side, I have been skeptical of a lot of “facts surrounding the 9/11 attacks, and even indulged in reading and watching so-called “documentaries trying to debunk the official government line on the circumstances surrounding that day. All that said, some of the conspiracy crazies have even more nutso thoughts than what we know to be the truth. But even this new theory sounds a bit¦out there.

Christian Simensen of SINTEF Materials and Chemistry recently presented his theory at a San Diego technology conference that the buildings collapsed due to explosions caused by the chemical and physical reactions that the planes’ aluminum hulls had with water from the buildings’ sprinkler systems.

Wow. OK. How? What’s the science?

This is how he explains it:

“All the floors in the Twin Towers were equipped with sprinkler systems. All the water above the hot aircraft bodies must have turned to steam. If my theory is correct, tonnes of aluminium ran down through the towers, where the smelt came into contact with a few hundred litres of water. From other disasters and experiments carried out by the aluminium industry, we know that reactions of this sort lead to violent explosions.

“The aluminium would immediately react with the water, with the result of a local rise on temperature of several hundred degrees, in addition to the explosions that were due to the fact that these reactions release hydrogen. Such reactions are particularly powerful when rust or other catalysts are present, which can raise the temperature to more than 1500 ËšC.”

“The aluminium industry has reported more than 250 aluminium water explosions since 1980. Alcoa Aluminium carried out an experiment under controlled conditions, in which 20 kilos of aluminium smelt were allowed to react with 20 kilos of water, to which some rust was added. The explosion destroyed the entire laboratory and left a crater 30 metres in diameter.”

Previous conspiracy theories about the collapse have been debunked by Popular Mechanics and others, who maintain the “fact that weakened steel beams were the culprit. Although the burning jet fuel was not hot enough to melt steel, it reportedly did the necessary damage: “Steel loses about 50 percent of its strength at 1100 °F,” senior engineer Farid Alfawak-hiri of the American Institute of Steel Construction told Popular Mechanics. “And at 1800 ° it is probably at less than 10 percent.”

Some commenters, however, prefer to remain wary of Simensen’s conclusions. One in particular noted that combining iron oxide (rust) with molten aluminum (Fe3O2 + Al = 2Fe + Al2O3) yields a compound called thermite, which is the same substance other theorists have “suspected to have been used in the controlled demolition of the towers.

Whether this new theory puts anything to rest is up for debate. What’s certain is that not having closure on the exact cause of the explosions 10 years after 9/11 just like not having a completed memorial museum or Freedom Tower borders on unacceptable.

–Taras Berezowsky

Comments (14)

  1. Don says:

    Aluminum does not “rust” it corrodes.

  2. tberezowsky says:

    No one’s saying aluminum rusts, Don — it’s a case of rust being “added” to aluminum, as in the reported experiment, or “present” near the aluminum hulls of the planes in the WTC, as in the theoretical reaction that day.

  3. MrCoto says:

    Here’s the fundamental thing wrong with this entire article, it need not have ever been written had NIST done their jobs and performed tests for explosive materials at that time.
    So the question shouldn’t be is this cock-a-mammy theory of sprinklers causing explosions right or wrong, it should be why didn’t NIST do their job?
    You answer that in a sound manner and you’ll gain my respect, and I’ll stop saying 9/11 was an inside job.

  4. Fred says:

    Popular Mechanics debunked 9/11? BTW, that was Benjamin Chertoff, Michael Chertoff’s nephew. Ha ha. After this week I needed a laugh. Thanks.

  5. Jack Death says:

    This is stupid. Even if this was what happened (which it isn’t), it would never result in two perfectly symmetrical collapses that mirror each other almost exactly.

    Also, the molten aluminum that supposedly would have been dripping down would not have all ignited simultaneously in both towers.

    Plus, people we’re reporting that there was molten steel in the basement as or even right before the towers were hit by the planes.

    This is a sad excuse of an explanation meant to counter the “conspiracy theories” (more like conspiracy facts) about 9/11 that only an idiot would buy into.

    The only way to create the two perfectly symmetrical, free-fall collapses that took place is through controlled demolition, with charges set off in perfect sequence directing the debris into the footprint of the building base.

    In the aluminum theory, the slightest resistance from lower floors that weren’t blown out in perfect sequence by the aluminum would have resulted in the top floors being slowed down in their collapse and falling off to the side, taking the path of least resistance.

    This new fake explanation is a bunch of GARBAGE. This only makes ‘the powers that be’ look more and more desperate in their attempts to divert attention from the reality of the inside job theory, and admitting now that there were explosions just brings the official story a little closer to the truth.


  6. Rev Dr Doug says:

    Fred, you are as misinformed as all the rest of the “truthers”; Ben Chertoff is no relation to Michael Chertoff.

    NIST may not have got everything exactly right but we know one thing for sure: the Towers were NOT brought down by explosives. They were brought down by damage from the aircraft impacts and subsequent collateral damage.

  7. jeremy says:

    Do people seriously believe this? erm come on this is rediculous. It could of been a good explanation if it were not for one thing. WTC7 was hit by an aeroplane? lmao

  8. JOHN Hennen says:

    Don’t think that aluminum chemistry had anything to with the collapse of the trade towers. I noticed from an early picture of a bent column that the beams were connected to the columns by a round steel bar (3/4″ or 1″) Once the horizontal beam shifted off the column – the whole building collapsed. They should have used steel angles one inch by one inch x 6″ long to give more support similar to the Empire State building.. theory only.

  9. Paul Vale says:

    None of the footage I have seen showed a symmetrical collapse as if demolished. The second tower came down in a very messy manner if you paid proper attention!

  10. Johannes says:

    “Christian Simensen of SINTEF Materials and Chemistry believes it’s overwhelmingly likely that the two aircraft were trapped inside an insulating layer of building debris within the skyscrapers.”

    Why is “it overwhelmingly likely” ?

    This is Bollocks !

  11. Firstly there was a massive amount of accelerant, the Aircraft fuel, that caused a huge fire ball. So the heat was instantaneous and there was so much other combustible material in close proximity. The Aircraft could’ve disintegrated within the fireball so there could’ve been as much as 50 tonnes of Aluminium. The temperatures within may well have reached the 660 C required to melt Aluminium. Plenty of water, sprinklers, kitchens,toilets etc. to touch off the Aluminium causing all levels of explosions. That could’ve increased the temperature up to 1500 c or higher. I was burned myself by an explosion of Aluminium. Casting Aluminium fenders, to much moisture in the sand set off the small amount of molten Aluminium, caused an explosion. Can happen and in uncontrolled conditions, recipe for disaster.

  12. Rob Dunford says:

    A lot of plastics in these office buildings. A vehicle fire can reach 2000F by the burning of plastics inside. Engine blocks melt, alloy wheels melt. People forget that plastics are an accelerant.

  13. sha_ says:

    Light a fire to any structure , usually the structures come tumbling down if the fire is not contained, the fire usually wins ,

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