Acetylene Shortage Information
Information Fact Sheet
A catastrophic explosion occurred on Monday, March 21 at the Louisville, KY plant of Carbide Industries, LLC (CI). CI, which is the nation's primary supplier of calcium carbide. This plant has been forced to cease production at this facility and has declared Force Majeure. The disruption of production is expected to last for a significant and indefinite period of time.
Calcium carbide is the raw material used in the generation of acetylene gas, and therefore the implications for industry-wide availability of acetylene are significant. Currently, the only operable calcium carbide plant in North America is the CI plant in Pryor, OK. It is much smaller than the Louisville plant, and is expected to run at capacity to help mitigate the loss of production at Louisville. Aside from generated acetylene, the other sources of acetylene in North America are chemical plants in Taft, LA and Geismar, LA. These chemical streams are already part of the national supply chain, and Geismar has some available production.
As a result of these developments, we are proactively assisting our customers with a conversion to an alternative fuel. In order to convert to any alternative fuel, there are a few things we must work through together, unless you are already familiar with switching over to alternative fuel equipment. Customers should be aware that a transition will require certain parts of their gas system to be changed - namely the gas cylinder, possibly the regulator, hose and cutting/heating tips used.
- Cylinder: Alternative Fuels are stored in different cylinders than acetylene including different sizes, wall construction and valves. Please check with your local store for these cylinders
- Regulators: Alternative Fuel gas regulators have different pressure ranges and are marked specifically for the type of gas they service. These regulators will allow you to deliver the Alternative Fuel at higher pressures than Acetylene which will facilitate the heating process.
- Hose: While Grade "R" and "RM" hose are acceptable for acetylene (although CGA recommends the exclusive use of Grade T hose), Grade "T" must be used for Alternative Fuels. If you cannot identify the type of hose you have, please consider purchasing a new grade “T” hose to ensure there aren't problems. (Note: grade “R” hose will deteriorate when exposed to any alternative fuel and, over time, will disintegrate).
- Cutting & Heating Tips: Cutting and heating tips are designed for use with the related gases in order to allow for the proper level of gas flow. Accordingly, tips designed specifically for Alternative Fuel gases are available. We must know the make and model of your torch(es) so we can recommend the proper tip replacement, if you are unsure which tip to get
- Complete Equipment Solution: Finally, you may wish to consider investing in a complete Alternative Fuel torch outfit. We can help you with this should you wish to do so.