General Info

What is stoichiometry?

The word "stoichiometry" comes from two Greek words: "stoicheion" (element) and "metron" (measure). It is the scientific method of determining the relative measures of the various elements that take part in a chemical reaction.

If all of the compounds that go into a reaction are in a "stoichiometric ratio", then there is no "extra" of any of the reactants: if they react as much as possible, then there will be none of the original chemicals left over.

How does copper thermite differ from other thermites?

Broadly speaking, a thermite is simply a mixture of a metal oxide and a more-reactive metal.  When ignited, the oxide gives up oxygen, which then combines with the other metal, making a different oxide.

The thermite mixture that most people are familiar with is Iron Oxide (aka "rust") and Aluminum.  This mixture is extremely hard to light, but once it does get going, it produces a slag of aluminum oxide floating atop a blob of molten iron as its reaction products.  Railroads used to use this thermite mixture to weld train tracks together.

Why use Copper Thermite to light motors?

As a general rule, larger solid motors tend to take longer to fully ignite and come up to pressure than smaller motors.  If you're only lighting a single motor, then a second or two of chuffing on the pad is probably not a big deal.  However, if you're lighting a cluster of motors, a safe flight may depend upon ensuring that all of the motors light simultaneously.

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