9/11 Scholars Forum

Exposing Falsehoods and Revealing Truths

How indisputable is the claim that thermite/nano-thermite was found in the WTC dust? Some Thoughts


Is it reasonable or not to assume that a proper chain of custody was established for the material that has been tested and allegedly found to be explosive residue of thermite/nano-thermite by Niels Harrit et. al and reported on in The Open Chemical Physics Jo... That basic question is too often overlooked it seems to me. All the arguments about how thermite/nano-thermite could have caused the destruction of the Twin Towers are dependent upon knowing for certain that the material was actually found there at the time it is alleged to have been and that it was meticulously preserved prior to chemical identification i.e., that a proper chain of custody was insured.


During a recent interview with George Noory on his Coast to Coast Radio Program, Dr. Wood stated that the chemical constituents’ of thermite/nanothermite would have been expected if the process that “dustified” [her word] the Twin Towers reduced them to almost nano-sized dust particulate. She then pointed out that thermite/nano-thermite is composed of iron oxide and aluminum, that the Twin Towers contained aluminum in large amounts and the steel was shown to rustify [her word] very quickly creating iron. With regard to Dr. Wood’s claim that the material allegedly found at GZ, tested by Harrit et. al and found to be thermite/nano-thermite, was actually expected, Dr. Gregory Jenkins, Jonathan Cole, Richard Gage, Gregg Roberts and others have responded and stressed the spherical nature of the alleged thermite/nanothermite (purportedly a marker for exploded thermite/nano-thermite) that was allegedly found at GZ early after 911. The following conclusions are from the Harrit et. al paper:


We have discovered distinctive red/gray chips in significant numbers in dust associated with the World Trade Center destruction. We have applied SEM/XEDS and other methods to characterize the small-scale structure and chemical signature of these chips, especially of their red component. The red material is most interesting and has the following characteristics:

1. It is composed of aluminum, iron, oxygen, silicon and carbon. Lesser amounts of other potentially reactive elements are sometimes present, such as potassium, sulfur, lead, barium and copper.

2. The primary elements (Al, Fe, O, Si, C) are typically all present in particles at the scale of tens to hundreds of nanometers, and detailed XEDS mapping shows intimate mixing.

3. On treatment with methyl ethyl ketone solvent, some segregation of components occurred. Elemental aluminum became sufficiently concentrated to be clearly identified in the pre-ignition material.

4. Iron oxide appears in faceted grains roughly 100 nm across whereas the aluminum appears in thin platelike structures. The small size of the iron oxide particles qualifies the material to be characterized as nanothermite or super-thermite.

5. Analysis shows that iron and oxygen are present in a ratio consistent with Fe2O3. The red material in all four WTC dust samples was similar in this way. Iron oxide was found in the pre-ignition material whereas elemental iron was not.

6. From the presence of elemental aluminum and iron oxide in the red material, we conclude that it contains the ingredients of thermite.

7. As measured using DSC, the material ignites and reacts vigorously at a temperature of approximately 430 °C, with a rather narrow exotherm, matching fairly closely an independent observation on a known super-thermite sample. The low temperature of ignition and the presence of iron oxide grains less than 120 nm show that the material is not conventional thermite (which ignites at temperatures above 900 °C) but very likely a form of super-thermite.

8. After igniting several red/gray chips in a DSC run to 700 °C, we found numerous iron-rich spheres and spheroids in the residue, indicating that a very high temperature reaction had occurred, since the iron-rich product clearly must have been molten to form these shapes. In several spheres, elemental iron was verified since the iron content significantly exceeded the oxygen content. We conclude that a high-temperature reduction-oxidation reaction has occurred in the heated chips, namely, the thermite reaction.

9. The spheroids produced by the DSC tests and by the flame test have an XEDS signature (Al, Fe, O, Si, C) which is depleted in carbon and aluminum relative to the original red material. This chemical signature strikingly matches the chemical signature of the spheroids produced by igniting commercial thermite, and also matches the signatures of many of the microspheres found in the WTC dust [5].

10. The carbon content of the red material indicates that an organic substance is present. This would be expected for super-thermite formulations in order to produce high gas pressures upon ignition and thus make them explosive. The nature of the organic material in these chips merits further exploration. We note that it is likely also an energetic material, in that the total energy release sometimes observed in DSC tests exceeds the theoretical maximum energy of the classic thermite reaction.

Based on these observations, we conclude that the red layer of the red/gray chips we have discovered in the WTC dust is active, unreacted thermitic material, incorporating nanotechnology, and is a highly energetic pyrotechnic or explosive material.”


Here we see that nanothermite is being referred to inappropriately as explosive, an obvious error which makes the other assertions suspect.


The argument that thermite/nanothermite advocates make is that the precise physico-chemical signature of the material tested by Harrit et. al is characteristic only of manufactured (purposely) explosive thermite/nano-thermite and that Dr. Wood’s explanation is incapable of creating the material in question. 


In the web-based article by article by Jonathan Cole, P.E., Richard Gage, AIA, and Gregg Robert..., we find the following:


"Substantial quantities of previously molten iron spheres, up to 150 times the background level of iron in dust from other buildings in the area, were found and documented by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and The RJ Lee Group (RJ Lee). RJ Lee found the microspheres in amounts up to 6% inside the skyscraper across the street from WTC 2. Other scientists estimate a total of 10-100 tons of microspheres altogether throughout Lower Manhattan. These spheres were so plentiful that RJ Lee used them as a “signature component” of the WTC Dust and the EPA discussed their use as signature markers. RJ Lee notes that the microspheres were “created during the event,” that is, they were not created by welding operations during the cleanup of Ground Zero. The previously molten state of these microspheres indicates that they were created by temperatures hot enough to melt iron. Office fires and jet fuel fires, which do not produce such high temperatures, could not possibly have produced them.

The chemical signature of the examined spheres matched the chemical signature of spheroids produced by common thermite and by red/gray nanothermite composite chips found in the WTC dust, indicating that thermitic reactions took place as part of the towers’ demise. The DEW hypothesis does not address this and cannot account for it – because it is inconsistent with the extreme heat required to produce it."

Clearly, this is a response to Dr. Wood’s hypothesis that should be formally addressed by Dr. Wood.


Thermite/nano-thermite advocates insist that its presence there was secondary to the attainment of extremely high temperatures at “Ground Zero” in excess of 4000-4500 degrees Fahrenheit, which Dr. Wood denies. If a proper chain of custody for the material referred to in Harrit et. al (that has been referred to as nano-thermite) can be established, the question can be settled whether that material matches the chemically characterized residue known to be associated with unexploded and exploded thermite/nano-thermite type ordinaire--a claim which appears to have been made by Jones et. al prematurely given what is currently known about the chain of custody of Harrit's test material which was obtained independently.


Another issue is the question of how Dr. Wood might account for the carbon and Silicon that was found in addition to the elemental iron, oxygen and aluminum in the material studied by Harrit et. al. With respect to the recent critique of Cole et. al.  are any other alternative explanations possible? Can the spherical shape be produced through any other known mechanism? Given the presence of several thousand human beings in the Twin Towers when they were destroyed, to what extent if any can the presence of elemental carbon in the Harrit et. al. material be related to the complete chemical/physical breakdown of human beings? Is the known amount of carbon present within the structural steel itself compatible with the concentration of carbon found in the Harrit et. al. material? These are questions that must be addressed by chemists and engineers who are well versed in bomb-making and the use of thermite/nano-thermite it seems to me.


Dr. Wood also asserted that thermite/nano-thermite has never been shown to cause buildings to turn into dust in mid-air but of course directed free energy of the type hypothesized by Dr. Wood has never been shown to do so either at least where it could be proven as apposed to being hypothesized. That of course is the question, which of the two if either is capable of doing so? Perhaps the best way to proceed would be to conduct empirical studies to see if thermite/nano-thermite is capable of performing the work that its proponents allege it is capable of. One way to do this would be to build appropriately dimensioned models of the Twin Towers with identical materials.


At first glance, it may seem difficult to model the destruction of a 110 story skyscraper with thermite/nanothermite but a mock-up with the exact configuration could conceivably be constructed or for that matter multiple exact replicas of Twin Tower buildings could be produced. Each identical model could then be destroyed utilizing various explosives, conventional and unconventional including C4, RDX, thermite/nano-thermite etc in appropriate scaled-down amounts after which the results of each explosive event/damage could be studied. This would be the best way to ascertain what each explosive is capable of in the absence of destroying an actual building which would not be completely comparable in any case because no other building in the world is identical and doing so would be unacceptable from multiple other perspectives. The result of each explosive event/damage could then be compared to the actual 911 event and the known resulting damage. It may be that none of the explosives subjected to testing could mimic the destructive events of 911 at Ground Zero. If in the alternative, comparable results were obtained, Dr. Wood’s hypothesis could on the basis of Occam’s razor seemingly be discarded.


One would think that after nearly 10 years, an empirical investigation of similar type would already have been completed. Has it?

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As I understand it, there were major questions about Dr. Jones' dust samples from the beginning.

They were not random samples.  They were allegedly taken from the high rise apartment of a lady who saved some samples I think in plastic bags and also left the dust in her apartment undisturbed.


Harrit just used Jones' dust samples.  Octavia S. posted recently in another thread that Dr. Jones "paid Dr. Harrit to peer review Dr. Jones' study."  The Journal that Harrit / Jones study published in is what is called a "vanity journal" and the research authors pay $800 to have their study published.


What does proper chain of custody look like?  I served on a criminal jury one time and the defendant was caught via a sting operation.  They explained the Police Dept.'s chain of custody of the "rocks" of crack cocaine obtained in the operation.  I just thought that was a total joke and I told my fellow jurors that.    I have already explained my bias against Dr. Jones and anything of his "research."  So I do not think I would like to even hear Dr. Jones' proposition that he handled the dust samples properly.


When I consider "EVIDENCE" from Ground Zero to be studied, I keep coming to the bottom line that the WHOLE 9-11 OPERATION was such a carefully crafted, multi-layered deception that we really cannot ever have a ligitimate study of legitimate evidence.


Dr. Frederick Whitehurst was or maybe still is the head of the Federal FBI crime lab.  He wrote a book and/or came out publicly about 12 years ago that the FBI crime lab is "manufacturing evidence", which may not be his exact term but very close.

If the FBI in their federal as well as their many U.S.-wide labs are manufacturing evidence, I think we can know that the same thing is happening at local law enforcement crime labs.


And if research studies done by large well-known, well funded universities and research institutes are designing research studies in biased dishonest ways to "cook up" the results they want, AND THEY ARE, I just cannot envision an honest study of honest dust samples ever being done.



What you point out Jeannon is very true.  I share your concerns re: Jones, Harrit and the other authors of the Harrit et. al paper.

I would be much more comfortable if the dust samples collected by the USGS on September 17-18 had been tested and found to contain thermite/nano-thermite particles. At that early stage, it would have been less likely that properly observed forensic custody issues would have arisen. As it is, a tremendous amount of assumptions are based upon evidence that may not be solid. I don't know if the USGS still has any of their samples which theoretically could be tested for thermite/nano-thermite. Obvious political limitations might make doing so impossible even if dust samples still exist that can properly be accounted for.


One of the classic characteristics of disinformation campaigns that follow High Cabal/Secret Team events is that the crime scenes are adulterated early on making it extremely difficult to ascertain what actually occurred and what should be characterized as authentic evidence and what is only disinformation. This of course is done purposedly by the conspirators. This was very evident in the JFK Assassination conspiracy and extensive cover-up which is being perpetuated to this very day.


Another characteristic is that there is always a plan A, then plan B is implemented if too many people begin to question the plan A explanation, then plan C when plan B is questioned too successfully, and so on.


It is clear that the same evolution is apparent with respect to the explanation(s) postulated for the destruction of the Twin Towers. When a gravitational collapse was proven to be impossible in the time alloted on the basis of known physical laws, various of alternative explanations began to be offered.


I was unaware of what you report re: Dr. Frederick Whitehurst and the FBI crime lab.

You could email Dr. Jones and ask him to produce the chain of custody and then post it for all of us to see. I believe he has already stated the chain of how he got the materials from multiple different individuals although I do not think he has posted the documents with signatures of the transactions, but he should have them, so just request them.

Their research said that at 425 degrees Celcius the thermate chips reacted violently or explosively.

You could request a video of the heating of the thermate and the explosion that occurred to be posted on youtube. Maybe there is already one there or somewhere.

Everyone that analyzed the dust found the micro-spheres of iron, not spheres of steel. Maybe some carbon was left in the iron. Judy says the steel was dustified so steel dust must be in the dust, if not she is debunked and her hypothesis is desregarded.Analyze the paper to see if pure steel as dust was found. Request Dr. Jones to verify if steel dust was a  part of the dust or not, but I think not from reading his paper.

Judy's hypothesis can be debunked on many accounts, easily, with a few tests on the dust and thermate and mininukes cac account for all of her anomalies, everything.

The dust samples are still available so other scientists can request samples to test, if they have the equipment to do so, so they would have to have access to industrial or academic labs with high level sophisticated equipment.

How explosive the thermate was should be clarified in terms of calories if energy produces per gram of material. You can request that information since they did the work and analysis.

Many pieces of evidence support that thermate was used prior the high explosives or mininukes finishing off the job. It was all designed to be deceptive and they succeeded in the deception until the "loose change" video and other exposed it all, at least to me, then all else was easy to prove providing one has a strong multidiscipline scientific background. And easy to prove from just understand free fall and resistance for the non scientist.....

The explosive nature of the thermate is the question that needs answering by Dr. Jones or his cosigners to his paper...


Chuck Boldwyn

Dr Hubert:  The only COC dust samples I've been able to find other than Dr Jones' samples  .....  I don't see any mention of

red/gray chips or iron spheres tho.  In the references at the end notice mention of carbon nanotubes, carbon nanoparticles,

and zero-valent iron nanoparticles  .....  http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=i...

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