March, 2003

200301MarAll DayReactive Chemistry - Not always when or where you want itProcess Safety Beacon | Unstable materials need CONSTANT attention - especially during non-routine operationsLessons:Risk AssessmentLanguage:EN Origin: CCPS Document Type:BulletinTopics:Chemical Reaction


Here’s What Happened:

A thermally unstable material (a peroxide –but many chemicals have similar properties) was being fed from a weigh tank to a reactor. Normal practice is to empty the weigh tank, leaving the transfer piping empty. In this instance, a leak developed. A quick repair was expected so valves were closed leaving the pipe FULL of peroxide. The reactor temperature was well above the point at which the peroxide decomposes. Heat from the reactor slowly warmed the material in the piping as the repair effort continued past the expected completion time. The material finally reached its decomposition temperature. The result–overpressure that ruptured the piping. Luckily, there were no injuries, just a lot of surprised people.

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CCPSCenter for Chemical Process Safety