Acetylene is consumed for oxy-acetylene gas welding and cutting due to the high temperature of the flame; combustion of acetylene with oxygen produces a flame of over 6000 °F. Oxyacetylene is the hottest burning common fuel gas and is the third hottest natural chemical flame.
Oxy-acetylene welding was a very popular welding process in previous decades due to the carbon present in acetylene gas. Acetylene is also widely used in the chemical industry for various forms of chemical synthesis and development.
Argon is an inert gas used when a completely non-reactive gas is required in laboratories and research facilities. Some of the uses of argon are as a filler gas in fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs & as an insulating gas between the glass panels of high-efficiency thermo pane windows. It’s more commonly used in the welding industry.
Argon is used in the mig & tig welding processes to keep atmospheric gases out of the weld area to prevent porosity & inclusions in the weld. Argon is sometimes mixed with other gases such as carbon dioxide, helium, oxygen or hydrogen. By doing this it changes certain characteristics in the weld such as penetration, bead appearance or cut quality depending on the process being used.
Carbon dioxide is most commonly used to produce carbonated soft drinks and soda water. The carbonation in beer and sparkling wine is added by manufacturers who carbonate these drinks with carbon dioxide. In the case of bottled and kegged beer carbon dioxide carbonation is the most common method used.
With the exception of your dark beers or microbrews, draught beer is usually transferred using pressurized carbon dioxide, sometimes mixed with nitrogen. In the welding field it is used as a shielding gas in mig welding sometimes mixed with argon to change the characteristics of the weld.
Some other common uses are fire extinguishers, salt water fish tanks, paintball guns, food packaging, regulating the PH in swimming pools, hydroponics planting & soil conditioning, dry ice, & oil recovery.
Helium has a wide range of uses such as on NASA’s space shuttles to the MRI machines in our hospitals.
Some of the more common uses for helium are for leak testing gas pipes and specialty devices, divers mix it with their breathing air for deep sea diving, welders mix helium with argon for mig and tig welding.
One of the most common daily uses for helium is for filling party balloons.
Hydrogen is highly flammable but has many uses. We use it to process fossil fuels, when mixed with nitrogen it’s used as a leak detection gas, & to produce ammonia which is found in most of our home cleaning products.
In the welding industry it’s more common use is as a shielding gas in atomic hydrogen welding, mixed with other gases for plasma cutting & sometimes used as a fuel gas for brazing, soldering or cutting. Many companies will use hydrogen as a fuel source for furnaces in furnace brazing applications.
Hydrogen has made headlines for many years for being used in military weapons and alternative fuel for engines in generators, lawnmowers, planes & automobiles hydrogen fuel cells.
The steel industry is one of the largest users of industrial oxygen. Oxygen is added into blast furnaces during the process of making steel & other metals such as copper, lead & zinc.
But the applications that are more familiar to us would be oxy-fuel cutting, welding, flame hardening, flame straightening & oxygen scarfing.
Oxygen is also used in the process of blowing glass and sculpturing. Fish hatcheries and seafood wholesalers will use oxygen to keep fish alive while transporting them.
Most of us think medical grade oxygen is used for breathing, at home, the hospital, a dentist office, nursing home, ambulance or at the veterinarian’s office for our pets. While this is true did you also know that medical grade oxygen is used for Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments, where a patient is placed in a pressurized chamber to drive oxygen deeper into their tissues.
Oxygen is also used to treat things such as non-healing wounds, decompression sickness (the bends), carbon monoxide poisoning, air or gas embolisms, necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacterial infection) and radiation related osteo-necrosis.
Compressed Breathing Air
Compressed breathing air is used in Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA). The most common people to use this gas mixture are fire departments and rescue personnel in confined spaces. This gas is what is in the yellow bottles strapped to a fire fighter when they enter a burning building.
Compressed air is a mixture of Nitrogen and Oxygen which is predominately the same thing the atmosphere we breathe consists of. It’s also used in scuba diving as a clean dry air source when diving. In the medical field it’s also widely used in the offices of our doctors & dentists to provide clean dry air for certain tools & instruments.
Nitrous oxide is used in the medical field as an anesthetic by dentists (aka laughing gas). This gas is administered to patients before undergoing dental procedures. It serves as a pain reliever and relaxant when conducting surgical procedures.
As a food additive nitrous oxide is the propellant commonly used in aerosol products i.e. cooking sprays. The nitrous oxide gas is also used in food service because it stops the growth of bacteria. In the field of dairy products, the gas is utilized as a foaming or mixing agent.
Nitrous oxide is used as a propellant for whip cream. In the field of vehicle racing, N2O is commonly known as “nitrous.” As we all know, nitrous is a non-flammable gas that delivers more oxygen. It is injected to the engine to boost power and speed. However, the more power it produces the more danger that it might damage or destroy the engine.
Nitrogen gas has a variety of applications, including serving as an inert replacement for air where oxidation is undesirable. In the food industry it serves as a preservative for packaged foods, a propellant for draft wine systems & mixed with carbon dioxide for draft beer systems.
It has become more popular in the automotive and aircraft fields for filling tires due to its inertness and lack of moisture. In the welding field its widely used in purging & pressure testing pipes & vessels for leaks.
When mixed with other gases it can be used in laser cutting applications & plasma cutting. Recreational users have been using Nitrogen to replace carbon dioxide as the main propellant source for paintball guns.
Propane is probably one of the best known gases being used today. Propane is an extremely clean fuel source for equipment such as automobiles, lawnmowers, forklifts & man lifts to run their engines. We use it for recreation in our RV’s & motor homes for cooking, heating water & heat while exploring the great outdoors.
Propane has its place in the welding industry as an alternative fuel in the oxy-fuel cutting & welding process. Propane is more commonly known for its use in our homes for heat, hot water, cooking, mosquito control & of course the barbecue grill.
One of the main uses of propylene is as a monomer, mostly for the production of polypropylene. Propylene is used in the production of plastics for injection molding and fibers.
Propylene is also used as a fuel gas for various heating and cutting processes. It has a similar calorific value to propane, but has a higher flame temperature.
Polymer-grade Propylene is the most dominant alternative fuel gas used in the U.S metal working market.
Welding gas mixes generally start with argon & then have other gases added to them. The % of each gas has a lot to do with the process you are doing & what weld characteristics you are trying to achieve. The one main objective all shielding gases have is to keep out atmospheric gases during the welding process.
By adding gases such as co2, oxygen or helium to argon the weld characteristics will change. Changes such as penetration or bead appearance are the advantages.
Hydrogen is added sometimes for Plasma-arc cutting and plasma-arc welding to provide a very high temperature when used with a special torch. But in most cases welding gas mixes are used in the mig or tig applications.