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However, acetylene is an unstable and highly flammable gas that is very sensitive to excess pressure and temperature, and even static electricity. An acetylene explosion can cause thousands of dollars of property damage and serious injury to anyone in the vicinity.
Some plasma systems, like the Powermax line, typically run on compressed air, eliminating the need for flammable gases. Hypertherm's HPR and HSD plasma systems can use a variety of gases (including air), most commonly oxygen and nitrogen. These gases are more stable than acetylene and require less special handling.
Although all types of thermal cutting produce some fumes and noise, one possible option for those using a cutting table and a mechanized plasma system is a water cutting table, which reduces fumes and noise substantially. Most types of oxyfuel cannot be used underwater because it creates a potentially explosive situation.