Acetylene (C2H2) is a colorless gas used in a variety of industrial applications. Its unique value is due to an ability to achieve the highest temperature (as high as 3200° celsius) of any fuel gas on combustion with oxygen, releasing more than 1400 BTUs per cubic foot. HVAC technicians use manual torches, either oxy-acetylene or air-acetylene, for brazing. Oxy-acetylene requires a cylinder of compressed acetylene gas as well as a cylinder of compressed high-purity oxygen. These gases combine for an intense flame temperature. An air-acetylene system requires only a single acetylene tank, taking oxygen from the atmosphere. Since air contains only about 21% oxygen, it was difficult for older air/acetylene torches to reach a temperature suitable for brazing, so these torches were used mainly for low-temperature soldering. With the development of swirl combustion technology, air/acetylene systems came into use for brazing. Oxy-acetylene welding is a cost-effective alternative in remote locations that lack reliable electrical supply, and is the only fuel gas that creates a flame hot enough to weld steel. It is also used to apply wires or powder to metals and ceramics, and non-stick coatings to metal castings. It is the first choice of fuel gases, offering low oxygen consumption and safe use within a confined space. In commercial supplies, acetylene exhibits a characteristic odor, often described as garlicky. Some common industrial applications for acetylene include:
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