By Sonny Sachdeva, Delphine Laboureur, Zhe Han, Sunder Janardanan, Wen Zhu, Sam Mannan Mary K. O’Connor Process Safety Center at Texas A&M Uni |
Reactive chemicals and intermediates are used extensively in the chemical process industries (CPI). Hazardous chemical reactivity can be defined as “any chemical reaction with the potential to exhibit rates of increase in temperature and/or pressure too high to be absorbed by the environment surrounding the system” . Reactive materials can be classified into two groups: self-reacting materials and materials that react with other materials.
Understanding the reactivity of these chemicals and the hazards they pose is an essential part of process safety. Under normal storage and ambient conditions, most chemicals maintain stability. However, process deviations, sudden changes in the operating conditions or contact with other chemicals may destabilize a chemical, releasing large amounts of energy and leading to a hazardous event. The resulting incident, generally characterized by fire and explosions, can lead to loss of life and property.
Though many advances in terms of regulations and research have been made, reactive chemical incidents continue to occur worldwide in a number of sectors. For example, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB; Washington, D.C.; www.csb.gov) identified 167 reactive-chemical incidents from 1980…