Burning Iron in Liquid Oxygen

Liquid oxygen presents us with a conundrum. When you expose a fire to oxygen, it burns brighter. When you expose fire to a liquid, it should put the fire out. And when you introduce something hot into something cold, the temperatures should cancel each other out, depending on how much substance there is of each. So what happens when you expose burning iron wool to liquid oxygen? The reaction is pretty spectacular.

(YouTube link)

Professor Martyn Poliakoff brings us another episode of The Periodic Table of Videos involving the scientific process. After the initial light show, he and his team of mad scientists tried to design experiments to find out exactly what was happening during the reaction. While they didn’t get the answers they were looking for, they learned quite a bit about the limits of lab equipment and the difficulty of observing unpredicted effects. Luckily, they keep a fire extinguisher handy. However, Poliakoff assures us that you can learn something even in failed experiments. And the footage was so cool that they couldn’t resist sharing it with us. -via Laughing Squid   

See also: More videos with Professor Poliakoff.

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My interpretation is that the ignited iron wool flashed when entering the 100% oxygen atmosphere above the LOX. Some burned and some melted. The melted bits are the left over lumps. I propose that we get PlasmaGryphon to design a series of experiments and have Destin Sandlin film them in super slow motion.
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