• Question: Have you ever got an explosive reaction?

    Asked by Daniel Grimwade to Georgia, Emily, Aimee on 9 Nov 2019.
    • Photo: Georgia Orton

      Georgia Orton answered on 9 Nov 2019:

      Yes, unfortunately!

      Some of the chemicals I work with are pyrophoric which means that they set fire if they touch any air.
      I was doing a reaction that I had done many times before but there was a tiny crack in the glass pot I was using that I had not seen before starting. Some air got through the crack and started a very hot reaction which blew the lid of my reaction off and lots of pyrophoric liquid everywhere. Thankfully I was wearing all my protective clothing and I had plan of what to do if something went wrong. I was able to act calmly and quickly and everything was fine.

    • Photo: Aimee Egglestone

      Aimee Egglestone answered on 11 Nov 2019:

      No! Although I have had gas build up, which sent a thermometer shooting out of my reaction vessel and against the roof of my fumehood!

      Generally, if we see that something we will be working with has the potential for something like that we have enough measures in place to stop it that it rarely happens! There are, however, labs which test process safety which actively try to blow things up or test the worst case scenarios – I was lucky enough to get to visit one a little while ago and it was honestly so cool!