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May 31, 2014

Breaking: Titanium Clubs Can Start Brush Fires

Who knew?

Wrote Henry Fountain in a March 20 New York Times article, "Scientists have determined that striking a rock while swinging a titanium club can create a shower of sparks that are hot enough, and last long enough, to start a brush fire."

"The finding, by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, clears up what fire officials in Southern California have seen as a mystery: the origin of two recent golf course fires, including one that burned 25 acres and injured a firefighter in 2010."

Scientists determined that "all of the titanium clubs [tested] created sparks [when hitting rocks] while none of the steel ones did.

The results were published in a recent paper in the journal Fire and Materials.

Don't take my work for it: watch the video up top.

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Below, the abstract of the published paper.

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Spark production by abrasion of titanium alloys in golf club heads

The objective of the present study was to determine whether golf clubs that have titanium (Ti) alloy surfaces can produce sparks when abraded under normal swing conditions. In the present work, sparks are defined as moving particles that emit radiant energy due to the process of combustion on its surface. Two three-irons and a three-wood containing a Ti alloy in the head as well as two three-irons and a three-wood that only contain stainless steel in the head were included in the study. The impact events during abrasion testing were recorded using a high-speed video camera, and abrasion damage was determined using stereometric analysis of scanning electron microscopy images. The findings reveal that Ti alloy faceplates that extend to the sole of the club can produce a number of Ti alloy particles when abraded under swing conditions. The particles then combust for a sufficient duration to potentially ignite a neighboring fuel source such as dry foliage and grasses. Abraded Ti alloy microparticles up to 500 µm in diameter were observed to burn for nearly 1 s, allowing ample time for fuel ignition. By contrast, no sparks were produced by stainless steel club heads when tested under the same conditions.

May 31, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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