Monday, February 13, 2006

Example of what not to do

I remember doing something like this on a MUCH SMALLER SCALE in a high school chemistry class. As I recall, we filled a baggie or something with the gas used for bunsen burners. It made quite an explosion, but after reading this, I figure that was a bad thing to do. In any event, bigger is not always better.

I wonder how big the balloon was that did this. As Mr. Wizard said, "kids, don't try this at home."

From the website of the Denver ABC news affiliate

A man from Sheridan is facing explosives charges after he accidentally blew up his own car with a gas-filled balloon he was taking to a Super Bowl party.The Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office found a suspicious-looking car Sunday afternoon behind the old Duggan's gas station in the 4500 block of South Santa Fe Drive frontage road. Passersby had called in to report some type of explosion or car accident.When a deputy arrived to check it out, he found a white car that showed obvious signs of an explosion. All the windows were blown out, the vehicle doors were bent towards the outside and the roof was pushed about a foot higher than normal.The deputy traced the license plate to a home in the 3600 block of South Grove Street in Sheridan. Sheridan officers talked to the people inside and a man and a woman admitted that they were in the car.


They explained that they were taking a balloon to a Super Bowl party -- a balloon filled with acetylene, a very explosive gas used in welding -- so they could blow up the balloon while celebrating.However, on the drive, the balloon rolled across the back seat, possibly causing static electricity, and igniting the gas, causing it to explode.The couple said a passer-by gave them a ride home.Deputies called in an ambulance, who took the couple to Swedish Medical Center for possible shrapnel wounds and broken eardrums.Norman Frey, 46, faces a charge of possession, use, or removal of explosives or incendiary devices. He faces two to six years in prison.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes I remember it well. Set the torch to cut, cool the tip, fill balloon, make afuse of lighter fluid and boom/splat.

I expected the old 5 gal tin can to fly a long ways. It didn't though. The bottom of the can stood straight up like a freshly opened can of soup.

Much to powerful for playing around with.
yours doug

Anonymous said...

think i'd better cross this one out from my 'to do'-list. But why did they take him all the way to Sweden for treatment?
:D

Anonymous said...

I saw this in boingboing and then I came here. I laughed so hard on this story, I was about to fall apart. What were they thinking?! I bet not so laughable for them. But it caused a good laughter for me.

Stewart C. Russell said...

I've heard of folks on the Upper Peninsula doing this with garbage bags. The bang alerted police from more than five miles away.

Anonymous said...

With one of those large "weather" balloons you can "vanish" a phone booth.

Anonymous said...

the reason this particular trick is soooo dangerous and sooooo stupid is that acetylene can burn in an environment without ANY supplimental oxygen. Most gasses need a certain ratio of gas to oxygen to burn, some of these ratios are qute narrow (gasoline is like that) but acetylene can burn all on it's own. So all you need is a bit of static electricity (quite common with ballons!) and you've got ignition. Most people don't realize that acetylene can do this.

Anonymous said...

I believe this dude lived in Sheridan, Colorado, which is a suburb of Denver, not Wyoming. The RSS feed says Wyoming.

Anonymous said...

wow....just wow....

Anonymous said...

I guess he didn't know that acetylene can self decompose (go boom) at 5 PSI in response to a trigger (light). That's why it is kept in a specialy constructed tank containing a metal mesh and disolved in acetone.

Carsten Agger said...

Two to six years in prison is outrageous, even "cruel and unusual", in my view.

He should have a thorough scolding, maybe a mandatory welding safety course, and maybe a $1,000 fine.

Putting anyone in the slammer, let alone for two years, for this sort of thing is over the top IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Almost a pair Darwin Award Candidates...

Anonymous said...

Grr... so the guy blew up his own car. Caused no other damage. Used an *available* welding gas.

And is getting cited for "possession and transport of explosives"? GRRrrr.

I can only imagine what they'd do if the found out I reloaded my own shells using *smokeless powder*.

Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the net-vid I saw of the brain trust shaking up gas and chlorine

Boom

T Eckels said...

I think that its more likely that just like helium, acetylene can escape through the rubber of the baloon, and with rubber having the ability to generate a static charge when rubbing against fabric, it isn't a a far leap to imagine the volitle acetylene molecules becoming excited enough to self ignite within the static charge field.

Anonymous said...

Been there done that. Not the same results. 1. No dry climates.
2. High humidity days. 3. An accompaning can of Static Gaurd is
a big help.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Carsten Agger. You can't punish stupidity.

It's a weird word when someone gets a lighter sentence for repeatedly raping a little girl than accidentally blowing himself up.

Anonymous said...

back in new jersey where I lived at 10 we used to take a 4" bore earth auger. hand drill down into soil on a small mound about 10 ft high till we hit the water table(about 15ft down), We would then throw a handful of miners carbide(generates aceylenye gas) down the bore, and leave a thin trail of alcohol or gasoline to a safe distance away(or cannon fuse ).
After waiting five minutes for gas generation to take place we then lit the fuse to the borehole.

Our very visible reward? A 30 ft shaft of flame boiling up to the heavens, a giant black smoke ring(about 30ft and growing as it rose and makeing the ground shake very mildly :)

Kids DONT try this at home... the laws have changed.. this was 50 years ago.
anon via tor

Carol said...

There are actually elements that does not mix very well that they sometimes explode when mixed. I think when handling anything, for safety purposes, one should be aware of how it would react or whatever element it should not be exposed to.