Acetylene price going up
I got a call from my Airgas distributor on Monday telling me that due to a plant explosion in Kentucky , there will be an extreme shortage of acetlyne gas .
Google " calcium carbide plant explosion "
I was told to stop selling all leases on gas , and expect to get shorted on every shipment .
They told me that acet will skyrocket in price and may not be available at any price .
Also that I should start pushing propylyne , and to stock up on replacement tips .
This comes just as the farmers are starting to do spring maintenence .
I can see lots of pissed off customers on the horizon .
So guard those tanks and remember to shut them down at the end of the day .
I hate to be cynical... But, perhaps it was an outdated, unprofitable plant.. Kill 2 birds with one stone.. And we know that once price goes up, it will never go back down.
A little research will show that a very small percentage of acetylene is made today using calcium carbide. My WAG is that its a price gouge in the same manner as the current gas and diesel price gouging, and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with any shortage.
Not much gas welding done now anyway, so if a person is gonna change their burning operation to something other than acetylene the smart move seems to be to propane. That's what I did a while back, as well as finding another supplier who'll fill the oxy cylinders we own. Anything I can do to avoid spending even one cent with Airgas is worth the effort IMO.
The railroad I work for services a carbide plant down in Oklahoma. They ship out loads quite often. They ship it in forklift-able containers which are strapped down on flatcars. I see covered hopper cars with carbide placards once in a while, and every now and then I'll see boxcars with the same placards, so I know there are other methods of shipping the stuff. Those placards indicate that water is a no-no to the contents of the railroad cars!!!
We take them carloads of limestone and nugget sized coal (pretty sure it isn't coke) and they ship loads of carbide out. Quite a few years ago the plant was called Union Carbide, but Ithey are called Midwest Carbide, now.
I just googled and came across the story the original post was about. I thought this was about an acetylene mfg. plant having problems, not a carbide plant.
Surely there is enough manufacturing capacity to take care of our needs in the plants that are left.
Carbide for acetylene
The plant where the accident occurred produced about 70% of the carbide pellets used in the US. Of course, that capacity can be replaced, but apparently not fast enough to avoid short term shortages. The problem for the guy who rebuilds the carbide capacity is calculating how much of the acetylene market will permanently shift to another fuel gas.
It may also be a very good time to buy a larger plasma. My 45 amp Hypertherm has probably saved me 3-6 bottles of acetylene a year.
As I understand it, the plant that burned supplied the carbide that produced as much as 80% of the U.S. consumed acetylene. We have seen a rapid increase in hand plasma systems volume in the last few weeks, and we have taken steps to increase production accordingly.
Jim Colt Hypertherm
I just heard this same thing and that acetylene is going to get a bit pricy. Maybe have to look at propylene
Originally Posted by jimcolt
My Airgas distributor declared force majeure so I may not even be able to get a bottle refilled at any price. Fortunately, I already burn a lot of propane and plan to convert all my torches.
I think its just Airgas cashing in. I talked to our Airgas guy at work and he gave me this song and dance like talking to big oil. Then i drove to my local weld shop where i get my gas and he told me just the opposite. He said his prices were still the same as last summer and his dist (Praxair) said they didn't need to raise the prices and there was no shortage on their end because their gas didn't come from that plant. So i guess we will see...Bob
Bob Wright Metal Master Fab
Salem, Ohio Birthplace of the Silver and Deming Drill, all others are copies.
The letter I got from Airgas this week is telling me to add a surcharge on acytelyne .
That term Force majeure was new to me , so I had to google it .
It basically means that due to forces beyond their control , they are relieved of any obligation to fulfill any contract to fill your tank .
Legalese for " tough luck buddy , no gas for you , not my problem "
Interesting observation about how many will switch to a cheaper gas , then discover we can get along just fine without acetylene .
Back in the 50's my dad would get carbide granules from somewhere and we would make carbide cannons using old paint cans. It's a wonder we didn't blow ourselves up!!
Yep, a blast from the past when I was a kid- Big Bang Cannons and they sold (and still sell) the carbide under the name of "Bangsite". I still have my cannon up on a shelf next to my lathe.
BTW, my local gas distributor says the supply is tight and you may or may not get gas on any given day, but the price is stable and there is a supply.
Bringing this back to the top.
I have an Airgas acetylene cylinder for my torch set. I think it is the largest they make. The dimensions fit the number 5 tank on the right hand end in this description of acetylene cylinders.
Anyhow, been years since it was filled, and I so some cutting, little brazing and a little heating. What did it in was leaving the damn valve open and being away from the shop for a few days. CRAPPPPP
So, our local Airgas stocking place is an Ace Hardware. I took it up there last week and to exchange it. He says he'd have to order one that size~ for obvious reasons. I can wait.
Today I happened to remember it and went up to see what he had for me. There it sat out on their dock where the other bottles are.
I get the ticket and go to the cashier to settle up. $208 later I am out the door. All the blood drained from my brain as I went into shock . I sure can't remember what I paid when I got it filled the last time, but holy shit, that's expensive. And for information, written in paint marker on the tank was "324", so I am thinking maybe that many cubic feet of gas may have been put in it.
Week before this I had a small carbon dioxide cylinder (like what they used to use to pressurize soda pop dispensers)~ the aluminum type~ I took up there to trade in. $33 dollars!!
There is a "Denison" welding gas distributor next door to my shop. After I got back with the co2 cylinder I went and asked him what his guy charges for those..... Denison charges around $25.
So, the Ace store is probably adding something to the cost, but sheesh.....
I have one other, smaller, acetylene cylinder on another set, and the third set I have is set up for propane. If the big cylinder is ever empty again, it may get replaced with a propane tank.
>>If the big cylinder is ever empty again, it may get replaced with a propane tank.<<
So what would you have to change over to run Propane instead ? Will your torch work OK
or do you have to switch tips ? Regulator probably ? hoses ?
Fort Wayne, IN
I'm not sure propane burns hot enough to melt steel...
Originally Posted by Larry S
It burns hot enough to get steel hot enough to burn in pure oxygen.
Yes propane burns hot enough to work cutting steel. Have spent many hours, doing just that..
Propane does not burn AS hot as Acetylene.
On big parts, time from first heat, to hitting the O2 lever, can be be quite a bit longer....
You need propane specific tips for your torches...
And if you need a carburizing flame, soot for mark out/fitting, Acetylene is needed...
I prefer Acetylene, the less time I have to be around a 12 in square bar of hot steel (with rounded corners, so no easy start...), the better..
Up at mine, the biggest expense is the O2... And you WILL use more Propane than Acetylene...
So if you can use propane, go ahead, it is the second best common fuel for the job...
Not hard to switch from one to other...
I recently learned that propane also requires a better hose than acetylene. Grade R will work with acetylene, propane requires grade T. Grade T will work with both, but Grade R deteriorates quickly with propane. Grade T is also about twice as expensive as grade R. I looked into using some propane to cut up some junk that is too big to fit in a rolloff container to save some fuel cost, seems you can use the same regulator for both, but the hose would have cost me way more than I could have saved on fuel unless I expected to cut for a long time.
I noticed at a scrapyard that they use propane, the bottles they use are the size of the bottles you see in trailer parks.