Re: TWA #800: "sparker" in tank?

Date:         13 Dec 96 04:26:04 
From:         daniel lance herrick <herrickd@odin.cle.ab.com>
Organization: Allen-Bradley Company
References:   1
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Ken wrote:
>
> Another theory (which may not be new) on TWA 800 explosion:
>
> Is it possible that a spark generator could have been
> inserted into the center fuel tank?  Perhaps at any of several
> airports which this aircraft had visited over the preceding weeks.

My 9 year old Volvo has an electric fuel pump in the gasoline tank.
Immersed in gasoline when the tank is full, poking up out of the
gasoline as the load is used.

Realisticly, one in a thousand of them has to make sparks.

We don't have the tanks blowing up because the gas mixture in the
tank is not combustible - saturated with gasoline vapor, relatively
little atmospheric oxygen. For gasoline, there is a relatively
small range of relative concentrations of gasoline vapor and gaseous
oxygen for which combustion is an issue.

Jet fuel is less volatile. Does that change the chemistry so much
that a "sparker" could produce the reaction observed? Or would the
infernal device have to include a bottle of oxidizer?

If you want to make up a scenario like this, why not pick out a
reagent that spontaneously reacts with jet fuel with great enthusiasm
and put a bottle of that reagent in the tank? All you have to do is
break the bottle at the propitious moment.

dan    dlh@dlh.com