FYI for those interested in the followup.
Christian Basi, BasiC**At_Symbol_Here**missouri.edu, 573-882-4430
Mary Jo Banken,573-882-6212, BankenM**At_Symbol_Here**missouri.edu
COLUMBIA, Mo. =AD=97 Officials from the University of Missouri have completed their investigation into the cause of the explosion at Schweitzer Hall that occurred on Monday, June 28.
The explosion occurred in the laboratory of Judy Wall, professor of biochemistry, during a routine setup of a microbiological anaerobic growth chamber. Wall and her team of researchers study anaerobic bacteria, or bacteria that cannot live in the presence of oxygen. The bacteria are able to convert toxic metals, such as uranium and other heavy metals, to less toxic forms. Wall=92s research is extremely valuable to environmental agencies working to clean sites contaminated with radioactive materials or other toxic metals.
Because of the bacteria=92s intolerance to oxygen, scientists must create just the right environment to study them. Wall=92s team studies the bacteria in chambers that are roughly 2 cubic meters in volume.
Standard operating procedures for establishing the anaerobic environment calls for the use of nitrogen to fill the chamber. Then, small amounts of hydrogen are introduced into the chamber to remove any remaining oxygen by combining to form water. Prior to the explosion, hydrogen was prematurely introduced into the chamber and reached an explosive level. Investigators concluded that the gas was ignited by a source inside the chamber.
Two factors contributed to hydrogen being introduced prematurely into the chamber:
To prevent such accidents in the future, investigators have recommended the following actions:
Investigators believe that several factors helped mitigate damage and allowed normal building activities to resume quickly. These factors include:
Everyone involved in the accident is doing well. The one person who was admitted to the hospital was released the following evening.
Note: Previous incorrect information was circulated that a =932,000 pound hydrogen tank=94 exploded. The source of hydrogen was a standard compressed gas cylinder that contained about one pound of hydrogen. The tank, itself, did not explode.
View this news release on the Web at:
For more news, visit:
MU News Bureau, 329 Jesse Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: 573-882-6211, Fax: 573-882-5489, E-mail: news**At_Symbol_Here**missouri.edu, Web: http://munews.missouri.edu/
Copyright =A9 2010 =97 Curators of the University of Missouri. All rights reserved. DMCA and other copyright information.
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Contact: Battalion Chief Steven Sapp
573-874-7557 Office (M-F, 8-5)
UPDATE - Origin and Cause
503 South College Ave - Laboratory Explosion
Columbia Fire Department investigators have concluded their investigation into the explosion and fire at Schweitzer Hall, 503 South College Ave, on June 28, 2010.
The origin of the explosion was inside of an anaerobic chamber and the cause was accidental.
Investigators, after examining scene evidence and conducting extensive interviews with the researchers in the laboratory at the time of the incident, found that hydrogen gas was inadvertently introduced into the chamber in sufficient quantities to explode and an ignition source inside the chamber ignited the hydrogen gas.
Researchers told investigators the anaerobic chamber where procedures are performed had been dismantled and then reassembled and they were in the process of =93washing=94 the interior of the chamber with what they believed was pure nitrogen gas. It appears that the tank containing hydrogen gas was accidentally left in the open or partially open position which allowed explosive levels of hydrogen gas to collect in the chamber.
Inside the chamber were several potential sources of ignition including a heater, a fan, and a catalyst material which produces heat. Fire investigators are not able to determine the exact cause of ignition.
The University of Missouri News Bureau will issue a release concerning their investigation, findings, and actions.