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posted by martyb on Sunday January 09 2022, @09:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the Red-Adair dept.

Turkmenistan's leader wants 'Gates of Hell' fire put out:

The president of Turkmenistan is calling for an end to one of the country's most notable but infernal sights — the blazing natural gas crater widely referred to as the "Gates of Hell."

The desert crater located about 260 kilometers (160 miles) north of the capital, Ashgabat, has burned for decades and is a popular sight for the small number of tourists who come to Turkmenistan, a country which is difficult to enter.

The Turkmen news site Turkmenportal said a 1971 gas-drilling collapse formed the crater, which is about 60 meters (190 feet) in diameter and 20 meters (70 feet) deep. To prevent the spread of gas, geologists set a fire, expecting the gas to burn off in a few weeks.

[...] The spectacular if unwelcome fire that has burned ever since is so renowned that state TV showed President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov speeding around it in an off-road truck in 2019.

But Berdymukhamedov has ordered his government to look for ways to put the fire out because it is causing ecological damage and affecting the health of people living in the area, state newspaper Neitralny Turkmenistan reported Saturday.

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:37AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:37AM (#1211398)

    Uhm ... I don't think methane burns hot enough to melt steel. Otherwise your gas stove would cause your kettles to melt. Does this crater release anything other than methane or have any other source of fuel?

    Acetylene burns considerably hotter than methane.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Immerman on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:16AM (2 children)

    by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:16AM (#1211701)

    It does.

    Methane burns at around 1,957C in air, about the same as propane, while acetylene buns at about 2,400C. (I believe that's an open flame in a "typical" environment - numbers can change wildly depending on the combustion environment)

    Meanwhile carbon steel melts at 1,425-1,540C, depending on specific alloy, and stainless at 1,510C. Pretty much anything hotter than a candle or cigarette burns hot enough to melt it. (And you don't even have to actually melt for it to be a structural problem - it gets dramatically weaker at temperatures far below the melting point.)

    That's normally complicated by the fact that most metal conducts heat *really* well, so if you're only heating a small area with a torch (or candle), then it may be really challenging to get the metal nearly as hot as the flame - instead you heat up a much larger area of metal which is able to efficiently dump heat into the environment - such as into the water on the other side of that thin sheet of kettle-bottom. In that case it's extremely difficult to heat the metal above 100C until all the water has boiled off.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:32PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 11 2022, @07:32PM (#1211869)

      So what are the burner grates made out of that they don't melt even if you leave the burner on for prolonged periods of time?

      • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday January 12 2022, @01:39AM

        by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday January 12 2022, @01:39AM (#1211987)

        Might be plain iron - they've got a whole lot of stove to use as a heat sink.

        Probably it's some high-temperature alloy.