Date: Sat, 12 Sep 2009 20:43:33 -0400
Reply-To: "David C. Finster" <dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**WITTENBERG.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "David C. Finster" <dfinster**At_Symbol_Here**WITTENBERG.EDU>
Subject: Gas cylinders as "rockets in the lab"?

DCHAS folks,

Chemistry safety folks have long warned students that a significant hazard associated with gas cylinder use/handling is that a snapped-off valve can turn the cylinder into a rocket capable of penetratin g concrete block walls.   I have searched on-line for an anecdote o r report of such an incident and cannot find such an account.  Further, in the book, “The Laboratory Companion,” (Gary S. Coyne, Wiley, 2006) on page 270 it says:  “The Compressed Gas Association claims that t his orifice is too small for the tank to become a projectile.”  (No reference is given for this statement; I could find nothing, easily, at the CGA website to confirm or refute this claim.)

My questions to the group are: 1) Does anyone know of such a (real) incident?   2)  Does anyone know of a CGA, or similar , source that definitively comments on “rocket plausibility”?   or 3) Has the intuitive application of Newton’s Third Law of Motion l ed us to believe for decades something that isn’t true?


David C. Finster
Professor of Chemistry
University Chemical Hygiene Officer
Department of Chemistry
Wittenberg University
dfins ter**At_Symbol_Here**

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