Date: Sun, 13 Sep 2009 18:52:20 -0400
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From: List Moderator <ecgrants**At_Symbol_Here**UVM.EDU>
Subject: 6 more on Gas cylinders as "rockets in the lab"

From: "George Walton" <g.c.walton**At_Symbol_Here**>< /font>
Date: September 13, 2009 2:51:30 PM EDT
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Gas cylinders as "rockets in the lab" -- two anecdotes

In the early 1980=92s (no later than 1984), there were slides prepared and distributed about a carbon dioxide cylinder incident in Ames, Iowa.  As I remember, the cylinder was part of a delivery to the USDA lab.  Due to snow and cold weather, both the lab and the gas distributor closed early.  Two new, untrained employees had been filling the cylinder at the distributor.  They were filling by pressure, not weight.  Due to the early closing, the cylinder was taken from an outside filling rack into a warehouse (maybe about 3:00 p.m.?).  About 10:00 p.m., the cylinder ruptured, causing extensive damage to the gas distributor=92s building.  The slide show had either a printed script or a taped presentation, describing the incident.  Does this ring a bell with anyone?  I had a copy of the program but left it at a previous employer.  I believe the program was distributed voluntarily and informally by some willing ACS members.


In 1985 or =9286, an oxygen service was using a rental truck (no placards) to deliver compressed and cryogenic oxygen to homes and businesses in Norfolk, VA.  The delivery driver stopped for lunch (?!?) at a private residence.  When he attempted to start the truck after the break, a fire, evidently accelerated by gas from a leaking cylinder, ignited the seat, back, and most other combustible materials in the cab.  The fire spread rapidly to the cargo area.  The safety or relief devices functioned as intended except for one cylinder.  This venting action burned really neat, round holes in adjacent cylinders and truck parts.  One cylinder ruptured, with pieces being thrown over several nearby homes, landing in streets and backyards.  The Norfolk, VA, fire department and the VA Department of Emergency Services (now re-named) responded.  I believe, but am not sure, that a report was filed with US DOT.


George Walton
Reactives Management Corp
1025 Executive Blvd, Suite 101
Chesapeake, VA  23320

From: danield734**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 8 RE: [DCHAS-L] Gas cylinders as "rockets in the lab"?
Date: September 13, 2009 12:58:33 PM EDT

I work at a hazardous waste treatment facility. We regularly flush out and devalve lecture bottles. The final step of the flush is to fill and empty the bottle three times with 40-60 psi nitrogen. Then we unscrew the valve. One time the crew had a mix up and forgot to depressurize after the final nitrogen flush. They proceeded to unscrew the valve. The lecture bottle took off like a rocket!!! And that was 60 psi at most! Fortunately no one was hurt, but they sure were scared!!



From: ACTSNYC**At_Symbol_Here**
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 8 RE: [DCHAS-L] Gas cylinders as "rockets in the lab"?
Date: September 13, 2009 3:26:37 PM EDT

You put a bright spot in my Sunday.  You answered the question about the "rocket" but there's a bunch of other videos of even 20# pots making quite an explosion.  It seems that some of our troups like to fill their off time with some interesting experiments.     Monona

From: "Jean & Ken Smith" <smith.j.k**At_Symbol_Here**>
Date: September 13, 2009 4:07:33 PM EDT
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Gas cylinders as "rockets in the lab"?

I saw the result, not the actual happening, of a snapped valve that turned the tank into a rocket.  In college - many years ago - they obtained many obsolete cylinders, mostly the 1A size.  They were supposed to all be emptied of the gaseous contents prior to sale.  The procedure at the college was to put the tanks on a steel pipe cradle and knock the valves off with a hammer and then use the tanks for a high pressure pipeline after welding them together.


This one tank was done as above, but the valve apparently had failed to open and the tank was still under high pressure.  The tank took off the cradle, bent it into a U shape, bounced off the forehead of one of the workers, went through a metal wall a few feet away breaking a 2x6 stud, and ended out in a field about 100 feet or so away.  Fortunately the hit worker did not sustain any major injury more than a small bump on the head.


So, yes, in my estimation any cylinder under full pressure can be an unguided missile capable of doing great damage to the laboratory and the physical plant and well as its inhabitants.  The one I described was out in the open field under a small 3-sided out-building and did not have a larger building to wreak havoc in.


Special care must be taken in handling gas cylinders of any size to insure that they do not become rockets.  Additionally, the contents may not be benign and may be deadly.


One source of more information about this subject may be found from the tank=92s distributors and the processors.  In my experience, they are more than willing to supply information and give lectures on tank safety.  Give them a try.


Kenneth Smith
CIH Retired



From: Joanna Lynch <jl72**At_Symbol_Here**>
Date: September 13, 2009 4:54:53 PM EDT
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Gas cylinders as "rockets in the lab"?

Yes, cylinders can go through concrete walls.  Mythbusters has a segment on it.  For a short clip, See: om/watch?v=ejEJGNLTo84

And military personnel I know have claimed to have seen it actually happen.

- Joanna

From: Ernest Lippert <ernielippert**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] 8 RE: [DCHAS-L] Gas cylinders as "rockets in the lab"?
Date: September 13, 2009 5:19:29 PM EDT

Back in the 1930's a cylinder fell off a dock in Oklahoma City and  went through a couple of buildings, I was young at the time but I still remember the impression it made on me.

Ernest L Lippert

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