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I am currently building a planet that weighs about 4 earth masses and it's radius is 2.3 times larger than that of earth's. It is an ammonia planet (as the title suggests), and has ammonia oceans with some dissolved water ice, methanol, hydrazine, chlorethane, and salts (sodium, chlorides, sulfates, potassium etc.). The average temperature is about 225ºK on the planet and the avg pressure at sea level is about 4 atm.

So this world will be populated by intelligent life. The crust of the world is already filled with gold, plarinum, and other noble metals, which came from a metal-rich asteroid coming too close to the planet and turning into a temporary ring. The metals in that ring then fell on to the planet as debris, but couldn't all sink to the core because the planet was already cooled down. Now, gold, platinum, and other noble metals are present at about a ~2% concentration on the continental crust.

Why all this talk about metal? Because I would like the intelligent life to have metalworking, and for that they need to be able to melt metal. Said intelligent life can use stone tools, live above ground, and have language and thinking skills. They are omnivores.

The issue is that ammonia, which is the world's solvent and constitutes about 20% of the atmosphere, and actively supresses fire. Even worse, there is no oxygen in this world, and any oxygen released is highly unstable. So, is there any way to create a fire-analog that my life forms can use for their metalworking?

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Yes.

The sulphur found around volcanoes shouldn't react with the ammonia directly, but...

The seawater is seaammonia. Ammonia dissolves alkali metals directly without needing them to be in compounds. This means there's sodium, calcium, potassium, lithium etc. readily available plentifully. Around the strand, where the sea meets the beach, there'll be deposits. There's going to be alkali metal flats (like the salt-flats in Bonneville Utah) where it can be mined from the surface direct..

So, leaving large, shallow bowls of seawater out in the sun until the ammonia is gone, the remaining precipitates will readily react with sulphur in nicely exothermic and easily controllable reactions.

Alternatively, a mixture of liquid ammonia and alkali metal mine-product can be mixed, or the seaammonia left to evaporate just enough 'till the solutions take on a metallic look, they will then be concentrated enough to be strongly reactive. This can be "dripped", or the flow can be easily controlled with a tap to attenuate the rate of combustion.

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  • $\begingroup$ When you say "without needing the to be in compounds" do you mean "without needing to be oxidized"? Because if so, I get it, but it's a little confusing $\endgroup$
    – No Name
    Commented May 26 at 13:23

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