ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on August 22, 2009

Acetylene (C2H2) is a highly flammable gas that burns with intense heat and a bright white light. Acetylene is an organic compound of carbon and hydrogen. It freezes at -84.3° C. (-120° F.), is colorless, and is moderately poisonous when inhaled. When there are impurities in the gas, it has a somewhat offensive smell, but pure acetylene has an aromatic odor similar to that of ether.

Although acetylene was discovered in 1836 by the British chemist Edmund Davy, it was not until 1892 that it became of importance to industry. At that tune, Thomas L. Willson, a Canadian, discovered an inexpensive way of producing calcium carbide by heating coal and lime in an electric furnace. The calcium carbide was combined with water to produce acetylene. This process is still in use, although acetylene is now also produced by cracking (breaking up) large hydrocarbon molecules in crude petroleum.

Because acetylene yields a brilliant white light upon burning, it was formerly used in automobile headlights, bicycle lamps, and other lights. The gas was produced in these lights by allowing a small supply of water to drip slowly onto chunks of calcium carbide. Acetylene lamps have been largely replaced by electric lights, but acetylene is still used in some miner's lamps, on boats, in lighthouses and harbor buoys, and in other places where electricity is not available.

Acetylene explodes readily and violently and must be handled carefully. It can be shipped safely in metal cylinders by dissolving it in acetone under pressure. It is also shipped in steel containers packed with an absorbent filler that has no sizable spaces where acetylene fumes can collect and explode.

Acetylene combines readily with many substances and is widely used in the synthesis of industrial products. Acetic acid is produced in large quantities from acetylene. Neoprene synthetic rubber is produced from vinyl acetylene. Acetic acid reacts with acetylene to form vinyl acetates, which are used in paints, adhesives, safety-glass laminations, and synthetic sponges. Hydrogen chloride reacts with acetylene to produce vinyl chloride, which is made into vinyl plastics; these are used to make upholstery, floor tile, inflatable toys, and many other products. Combination of acetylene with hydrogen cyanide produces acrylonitrile, from which synthetic fibers such as Acrilan and Orion are made. Chlorination of acetylene yields chlorocarbons, which are used as solvents in dry cleaning and in industry. Acetylene is also widely used in oxyacetylene torches for cutting and welding metals.

An oxyacetylene torch is a device used for welding and cutting metals, such as steel. In the oxyacetylene torch, acetylene is burned in oxygen. Temperatures of more than 4000° C. may be reached in the flame of an oxyacetylene torch. The oxygen is supplied to the torch from a cylinder of compressed gas. Acetylene is supplied from a tank that is loosely packed with kapok or a similar material and filled with a solution of acetylene in acetone under pressure.

Cylinders of only compressed acetylene, without filler or packing, are not used because they are likely to explode with great violence.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)