Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2011 09:01:09 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Beth Shepard <Beth.Shepard**At_Symbol_Here**SIAL.COM>
Subject: Re: FW: Lithium Aluminum Hydride & friction as an ignition source
In-Reply-To: <BE28425130279043A5B92A2BC7116E233F7313**At_Symbol_Here**>
Good morning--

I was concerned by this report so I did a little bit of research in our 
product files. First, is the researcher OK?

The warning that lithium aluminum hydride should be handled under argon is 
long-standing & is on the container labels, not just the MSDS.

On Sigma-Aldrich's "oldest" listing of Lithium aluminum hydride (199877), 
the container labels have indicated that it should be handled under argon 
since at least 1982.

The product # mentioned in the e-mail below, 199877, is advertised & sold 
as a powder. If the researcher had to scrape it out of the bottle, it was 
no longer a powder, which seems to me to be indicative of past reaction, 
that may have been due to exposure to atmospheric moisture.

I've sent Russ' e-mail to our MSDS group for evaluation.


Beth Shepard / Technical Compliance Specialist 
Regulatory Compliance 
6000 N. Teutonia Ave. / Milwaukee, WI 53209 / USA 
P: (414) 438-3850, x5471 

Russell Vernon  
Sent by: DCHAS-L Discussion List 
06/29/2011 07:13 PM
Please respond to
DCHAS-L Discussion List 


[DCHAS-L] FW: Lithium Aluminum Hydride & friction as an ignition source

Dear Chemical Safety Experts,
One of the labs on our campus had a fire when the researcher scraped 
lithium aluminum hydride (LiAlH4) out 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 of the manufacturerŐs 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 personal knowledge that friction 
can cause ignition of LiAlH4. 
The manufacturer (Sigma-Aldrich) of this material was contacted and 
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 Russell, 

We do not have any data on-hand suggesting that friction alone could cause 
ignition, however, all of our handling of this chemical is performed 
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 starting during the 
packaging process. 

As shown by those links, however, such an ignition does appear to be 
possible.  All we can recommend is handling this product under argon 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 / Gregory.Stachowiak**At_Symbol_Here**           scroll 
down to step 3: 
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 & Safety
University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave
Riverside, CA 92521
Direct (951) 827-5119
Admin (951) 827-5528
Fax (951) 827-5122 

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