Aluminum Foiled

    sciguy18
    By sciguy18

    If they were spraying water on that fire, why did it explode?

    This isn't just an ordinary fire. The substance that is burning is called aluminum alkyl.

    The carbon in this compound has five bonds which are very weak. This makes it very reactive. 
    When exposed to oxygen in the atmosphere, it will spontaneously combust (catch fire). When exposed to water, it will also react and give off heat.

    The heat that's released turns the water into steam. As the steam expands, it carries the molten aluminum alkyl with it up into the air.

    This increases the surface area of the aluminum alkyl, exposing it to even more oxygen.

    This results in a chain reaction - and a pretty impressive explosion...