NFPA 921 – 18.15 Analyze Fuel Source. “All available fuel sources should be considered and eliminated until one fuel can be identified as meeting all of the physical damage criteria. For example, if the epicenter of the explosion is identified as a 6ft (1.8 m) crater of pulverized concrete in the center of the floor, fugitive natural gas can be eliminated as the fuel, and only fuels that can create seated explosions should be considered.
Chemical analysis of debris, soot, soil, or air samples can be helpful in identifying the fuel. With explosives or liquid fuels, gas chromatography, mass spectrography, or other chemical tests of properly collected samples may be able to identify their presence.”
From their FAQ page:
14. Is it possible that thermite or thermate contributed to the collapse of WTC 7?
NIST has looked at the application and use of thermite and has determined that it was highly unlikely that it could have been used to sever columns in WTC 7 on Sept. 11, 2001.
Thermite is a combination of aluminum powder and a metal oxide that releases a tremendous amount of heat when ignited. It is typically used to weld railroad rails together by melting a small quantity of steel and pouring the melted steel into a form between the two rails. Thermate also contains sulfur and sometimes barium nitrate, both of which increase the compound’s thermal effect, create flame in burning, and significantly reduce the ignition temperature.
To apply thermite to a large steel column, approximately 0.13 lb. of thermite would be needed to heat and melt each pound of steel. For a steel column that weighs approximately 1,000 lbs. per foot, at least 100 lbs. of thermite would need to be placed around the column, ignited, and remain in contact with the vertical steel surface as the thermite reaction took place. This is for one column; presumably, more than one column would have been prepared with thermite, if this approach were to be used.
It is unlikely that 100 lbs. of thermite, or more, could have been carried into WTC 7 and placed around columns without being detected, either prior to Sept. 11, 2001, or during that day.
Given the fires that were observed that day, and the demonstrated structural response to the fires, NIST does not believe that thermite or thermate was used to fail any columns in WTC 7.
Analysis of the WTC steel for the elements in thermite/thermate would not necessarily have been conclusive. The metal compounds also would have been present in the construction materials making up the WTC buildings, and sulfur is present in the gypsum wallboard used for interior partitions.