Titanium dihydride, TiH2, has the potential of becoming an important new metal fuel in fireworks making.
Although it is not a “new” material in pyrotechnics and explosives, it is new to fireworks. As far as we know, it has not been used at all in fireworks manufacture before.
Because the material that Skylighter stocks is 25-75% less expensive than other metal fuels such as aluminum, magnesium-aluminum, and pure titanium, which produce the same or similar effects, it may enable fireworkers to reduce their costs significantly.
This article is a brief introduction to titanium dihydride and intended to serve both as an information resource, and hopefully as the start of further public discussion about practical uses that may be found for this new fireworking material.
First, what is it; what does it do?
Well, the material Skylighter currently has (#CH3011) is actually an alloy of mostly Titanium plus Vanadium and Aluminum, along with 2 molecules of Hydrogen.
Aluminum and vanadium are common in industrial titanium powders used in fireworks and don’t detract from the effects at all.
This powder produces a fine white or silver spark spray when it burns. The particles in this -120 mesh powder are too small to be used to make large sparks like those generated by 10-30 mesh coarser titanium powders that you see in aerial salutes, comet tails, etc.
Instead this particular material is better used to make silver colors, white, flame brighteners, etc.
Although titanium hydride powder has been around for many years, it has not found much, if any, use in fireworks before. Indeed, there are quite a few metal powders around that many of us would like to try out in fireworks, but most of them are not cost effective to use.
This particular titanium dihydride is of a particular mesh size that its manufacturer cannot use. So, for the first time, we have an ongoing source for titanium dihydride which is not only affordable, but because it is industrial surplus, is actually cheaper than aluminum, mag-alum, and other forms of titanium.
So, we decided to get about 900 pounds of it for Skylighter’s customers to be able to test and experiment with.
In fireworking, we need metal fuels to make everything from flash powder to white and silver colors, rocket fuel, flitter and glitter effects, flame brightener, silver sparks—metals are everywhere in fireworks.
But since most pyro mortals have never heard of titanium dihydride, don’t know what it’s used for, and can’t find any formulations for it, we figured the best way to solve that problem is to hold a Titanium Dihydride Cook-Off!
To enter this contest, you will first need to get some Titanium Dihydride from us. And then use it to come up with your own formulations and fireworks which actually work. (Skylighter has been giving away free samples of titanium dihydride for several weeks, so check your emails for info on how to get some free titanium dihydride to experiment with.)
How to Win the Great Titanium Dihydride Cook-Off
Substitute for Other Metals: One approach would be to find existing formulas that already use other metal powders and substitute titanium dihydride for aluminum, magnesium-aluminum, or titanium in them.
Follow existing instructions, and start with very small batches at first, 5-10 grams. Burn test loose powders first, then try them in lance tubes or small hand-rolled paper tubes, about ¼-inch in diameter. Scale up gradually to full batches of stars, fountain comp, drivers, spinners, rockets, comets, etc.
Develop Formulas from Scratch: For more experienced pyrotechnicians, or chemists, you may want to develop new formulas from scratch for fuel, stars, comets, etc. I do not recommend that brand new fireworkers attempt this. Randomly mixing chemicals you are inexperienced with is close kin to Russian Roulette.
Try a Team Approach: Another approach is to work with a partner or a small team to develop new fireworks. You may find this to be more fun than doing it alone, and most likely all of you will learn more, and faster.
Document your experiments. Record weights and formulas and chemicals used. Photograph and video everything you do.
The final entries must be videos of actual fireworks containing titanium dihydride. But the more detail you provide in your entry, the more likely your fireworks will be to win.
More information will be coming within a day or two about the contest rules and dates, so come back here to check, and watch your email.
Post Your Questions and Comments Below
What questions do you have? Please post them, along with any comments, or ideas you have for fireworks that can use titanium dihydride.
This is a great opportunity for all of us to make fireworks that look great, but cost a lot less money to create. I am hopeful we can all have fun doing it, and continue to learn in the process.