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Triethylaluminium or TEA ( (CH3CH2)3Al ) is a volatile organometallic compound which is used in various chemical processing and as an ignitor for jet and rocket engines. It is a colorless liquid with melting point -50 °C, boiling point 128-130 °C at 50 mm Hg, flash point at -18 °C, and a characteristic smell. It is corrosive, causes burns, and is highly destructive to respiratory tract. Its CAS number is [97-93-8] and its EINECS number is 202-619-3. Its risk and safety phrases are R14 R17 R34 S16 S42 S45.

TEA is pyrophoric (can ignite on contact with air) and will ignite and/or decompose on contact with water, and with any other oxidizers. [1]

TEA is one of the few substances volatile enough to ignite on contact with cryogenic liquid oxygen, which makes it particularly desirable as a rocket engine ignitor. It also can be used as a rocket fuel, but has not been for any production vehicle. [2]

Thickened pyrophoric agent (TPA)

Triethylaluminium thickened with polyisobutylene is used as an incendiary weapon, as a pyrophoric alternative to napalm, e.g. in the M74 rockets for the M202A1 launchers. [1] In this application it is known as TPA, for thickened pyrotechnic agent or thickened pyrophoric agent.

See also


  1. TEA Material Safety Data Sheet, accessed March 27, 2007
  2. Clark, John D., Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1972