Monday, August 16, 2010

Debunking Joseph Nobles: Thermal Conductivity and Corroded Steel

Joseph Nobles' newest additions to his site--FEMA Steel and Wick The Heat Away-- attempt to address some of the issues of how the steel in the WTC was affected by heat. As we will see, Mr. Nobles' assertions are, once again, either false or misleading.

Wick The Heat Away

One of the primary faults of NIST's reports on the WTC is that they did not include the factor of thermal conductivity in their modeling. Mr. Nobles, however, has a different opinion on this.

Right. Because they say nothing about steel conducting and transferring heat throughout the building, obviously it's in the report.

Amazing that thermal conductivity would be so important, but at the same time NIST offers no detail about it in their report. They would do it for concrete, but not the steel.

Actually, someone already has put numbers to this assertion. Kevin Ryan, in his critique of the NIST report on WTC 7, wrote that:

"Structural steel has a thermal conductivity of 46 W/m/K, which means that any heat applied is easily wicked away. But if that value were set to zero, or near zero, any heat applied would allow the temperature to rise dramatically at the point of application."

Here is what NIST's report on WTC 7 had to say about their fire simulations of WTC 7.

"The major fires on floors 7 through 9 and 11 through 13 in WTC 7 were simulated using the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), version 4, in a manner similar to the simulations conducted for WTC 1 and WTC 2 (NIST NCSTAR 1-5F)."
NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Vol. 1, page 4.

And what did NIST say about their fire simulations of the Twin Towers?

"The steel was assumed in the FDS model to be thermally-thin, thus, no thermal conductivity was used." NCSTAR 1-5F, page 20

"The interior walls [including insulated steel columns] were assumed to have the properties of gypsum board [0.5 W/m/K]." NCSTAR 1-5F, page 52

"Although the floor slab actually consisted of a metal deck topped with a concrete slab...the thermal properties of the entire floor slab were assumed to be that of concrete [1.0 W/m/K]." NCSTAR 1-5F, page 52

It is apparent that NIST went out of their way to include no thermal conductivity at all in their modeling.

Now let us turn to Mr. Nobles' section on the corroded steel from WTC 7.

The Pieces of Steel

Mr. Nobles presents what he considers to be conclusive proof that the steel was not attacked by thermate.

What Mr. Nobles seems to forget is that 1000°C is far hotter than the temperatures that NIST claims were in WTC 7. NIST states nowhere in their report that any of the steel in WTC 7 had been heated to 1000°C. Their most extreme claim is that the steel had been heated up to 675°C. And NIST has no evidence that any steel in the WTC had been heated up to 700-800°C.

As to why the steel was only heated to 1000°C, I cannot say for sure. But it's important to remember that, although thermate burns at temperatures much hotter than 1000°C, the steel would not necessarily have been heated to the exact temperature of whatever corroded it. For example, the NIST report on WTC 7 claims that the fires in the building were as hot as 2012°F, but that the steel only reached temperatures as hot as 1250°F (675°C). It is possible that the thermate that melted the piece of steel cooled somewhat as it reacted. But the main point is this: If nothing natural inside the building could have corroded the steel, then something unnatural must have been planted inside the building. This is the subject of the next part of Mr. Nobles' page.

Where Did The Sulfur Come From?

Like other defenders of the official story, Mr. Nobles offers several possible sources for the sulfur found in the WTC 7 steel, including rubbers, plastics, water, and gypsum wallboard. Wallboard has been cited most often by debunkers due to the fact that sulfur-based drywall was the third most used ingredient in the construction of the WTC complex. But as others have pointed out, calcium is also in drywall, and the sulfur and calcium are tightly bound into calcium sulfate. Because the piece of steel was found to be intergranularly melted, it means that the sulfur chemically entered into the steel. But calcium was found nowhere in the steel. Also, because it is calcium sulfate and not pure elemental sulfur, it could not have reacted in such a way that it would actually corrode the steel. Mr. Nobles closes this section with the following:

Unfortunately Mr. Nobles, these sources HAVE been ruled out.

In the last two parts of Mr. Nobles' page on the corroded steel, he acknowledges that the piece actually did come from WTC 7 (something that I in fact pointed out to him). But he claims that this piece has no real importance to NIST in their investigation. And contrary to what Mr. Nobles claims, the investigators did suggest it was "possible that the phenomenon started prior to collapse and accelerated the weakening of the steel structure."

Mr. Nobles' final statement is quite astounding.

In other words...