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This article provides a detailed discussion on the types of furnace atmospheres required for heat treating. These include generated exothermic-based atmospheres, generated endothermic-based atmospheres, generated exothermic-endothermic-based atmospheres, generated dissociated-ammonia-based atmospheres, industrial gas nitrogen-base atmospheres, argon atmospheres, and hydrogen atmospheres. Atmospheres for backfilling, partial pressure operation, and quenching in vacuum are also discussed. Furnace atmospheres constitute four major groups of safety hazards in heat treating: fire, explosion, toxicity, and asphyxiation. The article reviews the fundamentals of principal gases and vapors. It describes how the evaluation of the atmospheric requirements of heat treating furnaces is influenced by factors such as cost of operation and capital investment.

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