Calcium carbide

Calcium carbide is a chemical compound with the chemical formula of CaC2. Its main use industrially is in the production of acetylene and calcium cyanamide

Production: Calcium carbide (CaC2) is manufactured by heating a lime and carbon mixture to 2000 to 2100°C (3632 to 3812°F) in an electric arc furnace. At those temperatures, the lime is reduced by carbon to calcium carbide and carbon monoxide (CO), according to the following reaction:

CaO + 3C → CaC2 + CO

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Production of acetylene: The reaction of calcium carbide with water, producing acetylene and calcium hydroxide
CaC2 + 2 H2O → C2H2 + Ca(OH)2

This reaction was the basis of the industrial manufacture of acetylene, and is the major industrial use of calcium carbide.

The steel industry, Calcium carbide is used:
- In the desulfurisation of iron (pig iron, cast iron and steel)
- As a fuel in steelmaking to extend the scrap ratio to liquid iron, depending on economics.
- As a powerful deoxidizer at ladle treatment facilities.

Production of calcium cyanamide
Calcium carbide reacts with nitrogen at high temperature to form calcium cyanamide:
CaC2 + N2 → CaCN2 + C

Commonly known as nitrolim, calcium cyanamide is used as fertilizer. It is hydrolysed to cyanamide, H2NCN.

Besides, calcium carbide is used in carbide lamps, In the artificial ripening of fruit, calcium carbide is sometimes used as source of acetylene gas, which is a ripening agent similar to ethylene. However, this is illegal in some countries because consumption of fruits artificially ripened using calcium carbide can cause serious health problems in those who partake them.

Calcium carbide is used in toy cannons such as the Big-Bang Cannon, as well as in bamboo cannons.

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