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For a suit of armour to deal damage via the hands/palms/claws primarily as an antihero/vigilante gimmick. Now thinking around ~2000°C (3632°F) (Containment is another question) but I need it hot enough to melt most metals. Would chemistry or another way be better ultimately? E.g combustion, exothermic/thermic reactions.

edited temperature.

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    $\begingroup$ 660°C is nowhere near enough to melt most metals. It's iffy whether it'd be able to melt a random aluminum alloy. And how much metal do you want to be able to melt? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 4:38
  • $\begingroup$ Sharing some data: bombardier beetle's chemicals burn up to near 100°C and explodes with pressure. Napalm burns at 800 to 1200°C. Stainless steel melts at 1500°C. Mantis shrimp's punch cause cavitation that reaches 4700°C but good luck using your arm afterwards. $\endgroup$
    – KC Wong
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 4:39
  • $\begingroup$ @ChristopherJamesHuff I was (rightfully) reprimanded for aiming at 4000 degrees celsius lol so I lowered it exponentially, but I'm looking at something that melts through most building materials, including rock if possible. So, lots? For a period of time good for, ahem, fight scenes. $\endgroup$
    – crane j.
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ @KCWong OOOH thank you.. definitely some things I hadn't considered. The beetle thing could be cool, I'll look into that! Explosive upon contact. $\endgroup$
    – crane j.
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ Rock is a difficult one because composition varies a great deal. A casual search says an average of 600 to 1300°C. While cement is around 1550°C. $\endgroup$
    – KC Wong
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 7:16

3 Answers 3

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Anti-Matter

No material known to man has a higher energy density than anti-matter... but that is not really what makes anti-matter the best choice.

The accepted answer pointed out the virtues of fission as a really good source of enough energy to melt anything and everything, but forgot to consider the limitations of fissile fuels. Fuel grade Uranium produces massive amounts of heat over time, but it does not itself get all that hot: a few hundred degrees tops. But as you bundle more and more fissile fuel together, it does not just get hotter and hotter, eventually it hits its critical point and you go straight from a few hundred degrees to a city leveling explosion. Nukes have a minimum mass at which the fuel can go critical; so, there is no way to make something much between oven hot and Weapons of Mass Destruction using fissile fuel. Since your goal is a melt at close range weapon, this cannot achieve the desired effect

Anti-Matter however is critical at any volume. Using high precision magnetic fields and a tiny droplet of anti-matter you can control the exact flow of anti-matter into a target it takes to instantly melt through it without creating so much blow back that will harm the attacker.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ I never considered anti-matter, and it goes almost (almost) hand in hand with the nuclear fission answer above, so I think I'm gonna use everything suggested mesh it, rework, and do some design trials and theoretical tests for combat and storyline. Do you think it would work for melee/grappling combat? just off the top of your head if you have time! $\endgroup$
    – crane j.
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ @cranej. Yes. The whole point of anti-matter in this case is that it is scalable in a way that other nuclear fuels are not. Fission and fusion have these huge ranges of energy that they literally can not achieve, but a carefully measured amount of antimatter that could fit in a small device could produce the heat of a birthday candle, a nuclear bomb, or anything in between. So something like the plasma sword idea above could be made without the backpack, and scaled up to 10s of thousands of degrees to cut more like a lightsaber than a much slower oxyacetylene torch. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ AWESOME SAUCE, thank you so much!! I'm gonna close the question but I think this is probably my best answer so far. I've already been drafting designs themed on this, I'm so excited to finish it! aaaah $\endgroup$
    – crane j.
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 9:13
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If you want the fastest way to generate a lot of heat, you want to look at nuclear fission. (mandatory XKCD quote)

enter image description here

As demonstrated in nuclear weapons, you will be able to get within nanoseconds temperatures in excess of some million degrees, capable of vaporizing anything in the radius of few hundred meters.

I am not counting nuclear fusion because as of today it requires a fission to be initiated.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Worldbuilding Meta, or in Worldbuilding Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 8:00
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So a welding machine.

These come in two basic variants chemical and electrical. Both require the storage of lots and lots of energy somewhere in the suit. The more energy efficient way to deal damage is bullets, but that is what everybody is already doing. In history there have been some experiments with flamethrower suits as a military weapon, but they were impractical and more dangerous to the wearer that to the enemy.

Torch

With that out of the way on to our awe inspiring villain. Unless this devise is only used sporadically as a final trove the energy storage requirements soon get out of hand. Watch the development of the propane torch lightsaber by Hacksmith on YT. They had to hide a propane and oxygen tank out of screen to fuel the thing for long enough to be impressive. But suits for hero's and anti hero's are big energy hogs anyway, so lets assume the technology exist to have lots of portable energy.

Hacksmith Industries Built a REAL Lightsaber

Plasma

So lets assume a sufficient source of electricity. At least tens but more likely hundreds of kilowatts of energy. Like that of a battery pack of a very fast electric car. Then a plasma cutter like device would be an option. The plasma would be generated by electrodes and then heated to impossible temperatures with the help of alternating magnetic fields. Or maybe a microwave. If all the energy would be supplied by the electrodes these would erode to quickly.

Because of the low density the temperatures must be much higher to inflict large amounts of damage in a reasonable time. The benefit is that the plasma can be blown into a direction by a compressor fan. This can also reduce the wear on the suit, since the hottest part of the plasma is at a small distance from the device. Assuming energy is no problem, this is the best solution, since it doesn't consume fuel.

915 MHz microwave plasma downstream source running at 60 kW

915 MHz microwave plasma downstream source running at 60 kW

https://muegge.de/atmospheric-microwave-plasma-technology-high-temperature-and-power-to-x-applications/

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  • $\begingroup$ a blow torch actually fits really well into the theme, and even though I don't see it as the main weapon/dmg dealer I can definitely see it being a secondary weapon/means of defence. Everyone who's responded has given me a lot to stew over, it's so awesome 😭 $\endgroup$
    – crane j.
    Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 7:04

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