Publications

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Reactivity Screening Made Easy

During the past decade, large efforts were expanded by the US chemical and petrochemical industries to implement and maintain effective process safety management (PSM) and responsible care programs. Despite these large investments, incidents continue to occur at an alarming frequency. Many executives of leading companies are trying to understand why. A significant portion of recent incidents involved runaway chemical reactions. This underscores the importance of the need to understand and manage chemical reaction hazards more effectively. We believe that the “quality” of implementation, change management, and auditing of corporate PSM programs is the culprit. We focus in this presentation on incidents caused by runaway reactions and provide guidance on how to improve the “Quality” of managing chemical reactions hazards through a combination of screening and experimental tools. Read more

Simplified Process Safety Management for Smaller Companies

Small companies that don’t exceed the threshold quantity requirements to be covered by OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) of Highly Hazardous Chemicals Standard are still handling hazardous materials that may pose risks to their employees and the public. However, many of these companies have limited resources and find the idea of implementing an entire PSM program daunting. These companies should start with a limited process safety program work towards establishing a culture that recognizes process safety to be equally important as personnel safety. Once this initial framework and culture are in place, companies can slowly build and adapt their PSM program to appropriately manage their risks. This presentation will deliver a practical framework and provide steps on how to integrate a simplified PSM framework into your existing personnel safety program. Read more

Systematic Evaluation of Chemical Reaction Hazards

Effective thermal hazard evaluation requires an integrated approach to assessment of chemical reactivity. A variety of theoretical and experimental methods can be used to determine the thermal stability of specific compounds or reactive systems. Notwithstanding this, recurrent problems occur with materials and/or reactions which are known to be inherently unstable. Correct application of physical tests and interpretation of output data is essential for effective thermal hazard evaluation 1. This paper provides an integrated approach for the systematic evaluation of thermal hazards and effective scale-up of data for emergency relief system design. Read more

The Role of Chemical Reactivity Data in Process Safety Management

Chemical reactivity is addressed throughout the requirements of OSHA’s PSM Standard. It is specifically required in the process safety information element. In addition, it is necessary input to process hazard analyses, operating procedure development, emergency relief system design, and mechanical integrity. As the understanding of the impact of chemical reactivity hazards on the operation of a chemical process continues to develop, it is important to have a method for developing this data. Equally important is a method for extracting meaningful reactivity information from the data and incorporating it into process safety. This paper will present a process for evaluating chemical reactivity hazards using an Accelerating Rate Calorimeter (ARC®). It will then explain how to extract information from this data to help define process safety elements such as safe upper and lower limits, emergency relief system design, etc. Read more

Thermo-Kinetic Analysis of Reactions Involved in the Manufacture of oNitroaniline

Exothermic reaction processing must be concerned with potential consequences when heat released by the reaction exceeds that removed by the reactor coolant system, a situation known commonly as a runaway reaction. We have investigated a complicated reaction process in which two exotherms can occur — the process of making the desired product, o-nitroaniline (o-NA), from ammonia and o-chloronitrobenzene (T Onset around 140° C), and the decomposition of the product, o-NA (T Onset around 225° C). A severe industrial loss occurred in 1971 at a plant producing o-nitroaniline, an incident that has been the subject of several AIChE loss prevention presentations and papers. In this article, we take a closer look at the chemistry involved, and the ability to use thermo-kinetic analyses to understand the reactions involved, and how these influenced the accident that occurred. Further, we present the progress we've made towards predictive models for the kinetics and the pressure-time data. Several useful generalizations have evolved. First, is the need to include experiments that use stoichiometric mixtures when assessing exothermic reactions. Second, is the need to understand the role of reaction intermediates, and how they may influence the operation of the plant. Read more