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Project Fireball

Many thanks to Ry who did the video work (including most of this page), as well as helping with the tests.

bulletDecember 2001
bulletDecember 2002
bulletJanuary 2003

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December 2001

631 is a particular type of FlashTek explosive which is impact sensitive and can be reliably detonated with a centerfire rifle.  This explosive was used to disperse and vaporize the fuel (ordinary gasoline).  It was hoped that it would also ignite the fuel but the high temperatures are very short lived.  Therefore additional materials were experimented with to provide an ignition source after the fuel was mixed with the air. 

With 1 gallon of gasoline on top of 1 pint of 631 +:

Blast 00: Titanium:

Blast 01: Steel Wool: No cool picture
Blast 02: Aluminum Foil:

Blast 03: Aluminum Powder: No cool picture
Blast 04: Thermite:

With no gasoline, just 631 + :
Blast 05: Aluminum Foil:

Blast 06: Nothing:

Here we wanted to verify that the Titanium was actually causing the fireball, so there is a gallon of gasoline in this one:
Blast 07: Titanium:

WMV compilation: windows only
Ti powder & gas
Ti powder & gas
Thermite & gas
Al powder & gas
Steel wool & gas
Al foil & gas
Al foil

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December 2001

Further tests with a slightly different explosive mixture and configuration.  We used a quart of explosives instead of a pint and we put the Ti powder (actually 90% Ti, 6% Vn, 4% Al, -18 +120 Mesh) in the either the middle of the explosives or at the bottom. Then we put a gallon of gasoline (10% ethanol) behind the explosives.  We were five for five in the tests.

Click on the picture to see the video.

Ti was in the middle of the HE.  Notice the sparks exiting the area.

Ti was at the bottom.  As it was for the rest of the tests.

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January 19th, 2003 

Wanting to get a high resolution picture of a fireball I took my daughter Kim and her cousin Lacey out for some tests.  Kim ran the rifle, the video camera was on a tripod, and I had the still camera.  Lacey provided the additional sound effects.

Click on the picture for the high resolution picture.  Click here for the video.

The picture above was taken in daylight with some cloud cover.  The light from the fire was so bright that it made the ground appear dark as the camera adjusted for the intensity.  This used four gallons of gasoline (one gallon behind, one on each side and one on top) and four pounds of explosives. The shooter, daughter Kim, was about 100 feet away and was accompanied by her cousin Lacey (HOLY SHIT!) in the "giggle fit" after the fireball goes up.

Here is what they wrote about their experience.

A wild heat 
engulfs my body
then grips my heart

My body is warmed
all the way through
my fingers to my feet

I'm not scared
for there is no pain
Just an immense heat

Kim Huffman-Scott


"Safety’s off" Kim replied as she took aim and fired. "Baawoooo!" screamed the fire as both Joe and I were engulfed with the radiant illumination. It looked for just a moment as if the fiery gates of hell had suddenly opened for the world to see. In that split second it seemed to me that the earth had opened to reveal itself from within. From a hundred feet away my face and hands tingled as if I had walked into a warm room. I wanted to run in fear but I was mesmerized by the sight of such power and the only outlet of emotion that I was capable of was a few profanities. The ball of fire swelled high into the air where it turned into a puff of black smoke. A small fire continued to burn up though the rocks marking the initial spot of ignition. Kim proudly rose from the ground with a look of utter satisfaction. The three of us laughed with excitement as we decided to try it one more time. 

Lacey Swanson

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Last update: February 16, 2003
Email: Joe Huffman