6
$\begingroup$

Don't you just hate when Euron injures your pet dragons and perforates your fleet with a ballista?

Don't worry, all you need is a shipful of Wildfire and a very long fuse (or Mehdi Sadaghdar with electric equipment) onboard. Lay back, play some music and watch the ensuing light show.

But how does Wildfire even work?

What we know so far

Wildfire is a neon green liquid that's stable at room temperature, but is very easy to ignite with just about any spark or flame.

Wildfire, stored in a closed space, tends to cause enormous explosions, while out in the open, it simply burns with a green flame. Wildfire can't be extinguished with water and continues to burn for quite some time. It is also said that it can burn hot enough to melt steel beams.

Assuming no magic is involved, how could Wildfire work?

$\endgroup$
1
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I always thought it was a form of greek fire: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_fire. Burns on water, used mostly against ships, was used historically only the exact forumula is unknown. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Mar 7 '20 at 20:02
11
$\begingroup$

We can deduce a few properties of the mixture from its observed behaviour:

  1. It's a hydrophobic, glutinous gel over a wide range of temperatures. There are lots of chemicals which match this description.
  2. It's self-oxidising. The mixture doesn't require external oxygen from the air to release energy; this is necessary in order for it to explode when confined. Gunpowder, ANFO and thermite are all good examples of this.
  3. It burns with an extremely high temperature. If it's capable of at least softening steel beams to the point of failure, it must be able to reach temperatures of 1250°C plus. There's a smaller range of reactions that kick out that kind of heat, but still plenty of examples, like white phosophorus (2760°C) or aluminium-iron-oxide thermite (2500°C).
  4. It's green, both in base colour and in flame. There are a couple of metals and salts that could be contributing to that.

For my money, I'd suggest that wildfire consists of a mixture of a thermite powder dissolved in a glutinous fuel-oxidiser which contains something like barium chlorate as the oxidizer. The leftover barium burns with a green glow which is very similar to the colour of wildfire in the video. The fuel-oxidiser provides the initial heat to start the thermite reaction which can then reach the extremely high temperatures. If the oxide in the thermite was chromia instead of iron oxide, you would get the potent green colour in the base mixture as well as in the flame. Chromium itself burns with a silver-white flame which would add the white tints seen in the wildfire.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nice analysis. +1 $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Mar 8 '20 at 1:22
4
$\begingroup$

It seems a more potent version of gasoline. It might have a higher viscosity, and hence a slower evaporation rate, but otherwise behaves very similar.

When gasoline is enclosed and ignites, it will explode quite spectacularly. This is because only the vapours ignite, and burst the container throwing the rest of the gas everywhere fine enough to ignite as well, resulting in a fireball.

But when gasoline is ignited on a surface the vapours on top burn off, but the rest isn't flung anywhere so it will burn at evaporation speed.

It is also hydrophobic. If the burning temperature is high, then it would be hard to douse with water. The water won't cool it quick enough, and the hydrophobic quality means full coverage is hard to achieve.

The green flame might be a company signature, they could lace it with boric acid or copper sulfate. "If its green, its quality".

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.