Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2011 00:13:07 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
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From: Russell Vernon <russell.vernon**At_Symbol_Here**UCR.EDU>
Subject: FW: Lithium Aluminum Hydride & friction as an ignition source
In-Reply-To: <BE28425130279043A5B92A2BC7116E233E3DAB**At_Symbol_Here**>

Dear Chemical Safety Experts,< /span>

One of the labs on our campus had a fire when the researcher scraped lithium aluminum hydride (LiAlH4) ou t of the glass jar in which it was packaged. The LiAlH4 was old and the researcher was using a dry metal spatula. A quick review o f the manufacturer’s Material Safety Data Sheet informed the user of moisture sensitivity but there is no indication of friction causing a fire.

The supervising faculty member reported p ersonal knowledge that friction can cause ignition of LiAlH4.

The manufacturer (Sigma-Aldrich) of this material was contacted and responded:

From: Gregory Stachowiak [mailto:Gregory.Stachowiak**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of Sigma-Aldrich Technical Service
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 8:17 AM
To: Russell Vernon
Cc: Chantalle Carver
Subject: RE: 199877 -- Lithium Aluminum Hydride

Hello again R ussell,

We do not have any data on-hand suggesting that friction alone c ould cause ignition, however, all of our handling of this chemical is perfo rmed inside a glove bag under a completely inert atmosphere (argon specifically).  This inert atmosphere, combined with the idea that we don't "spread the product out over a large, flat, combustible surface" is likely why we have never had any issues with fires startin g during the packaging process.

As shown by those links, however, such an ignition does appear t o be possible.  All we can recommend is handling this product under ar gon in a glove box or a glove bag to minimize the oxygen and moisture contact and therefore minimize the chances of a fire.

Unfortunately, because we have not had issues with this problem, we do not have a specific written procedure for weighing it, no.

Best regards,
Gregory Stachowiak


Gregory Stachowiak / Scientist, Technical Service Associate
Technical Services
6000 N Teutonia Avenue / Milwaukee WI 53209 / USA
P: (800) 231-8327, x5326 / G regory.Stachowiak**At_Symbol_Here** oductProperty_EN_CB7318252.htm .shtml           scroll do wn to step 3: afetymanual/cheminfo/lah.htm

So it appears likely that friction alone in the presence of air may be able to ignite lithium aluminum hydride.

You may want to evaluate your own use and written procedures to prevent this from happening in your world.



Russell Vernon, Ph. D.


Environmental Health & amp; Safety

University of Californ ia, Riverside

900 University Ave

Riverside, CA 92521


Direct (951) 827-5119

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