From: Michael Ng <Michael.Ng**At_Symbol_Here**LIU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] dry butyl lithium
Date: May 17, 2012 11:33:15 AM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <6F431C2EE2F38D459F5DD28C5B9A10BC0C05E3E8**At_Symbol_Here**>


You probably have a block of lithium hydroxide. But I'm not betting my life on it. You have two options.

1) If you are capable or can find an experienced chemist who is capable to destroy small quantities of butyllithium & its residue, the container must be purged with dry nitrogen gas in the fume hood prior to the addition of hexane. (Please refer to the 1994 or 2012 edition of Destruction of Hazardous Chemicals In the Laboratory by Eric. B. Sansone and George Lunn.) If the air in the container is not purged, you may get a fire. If you get a fire, it'll eventually burn out, and the residue can be discarded as hazardous waste.

Once the container is purged with nitrogen, you can proceed with injecting hexane to the container under a dry ice bath (you really have to be extremely careful with ice baths, as the ice water can set off butyllithium fires).

Not all of the solid will dissolve, thus confirming the presence of lithium hydroxide. This mixture is safe to transport when using a secondary containment and shall be discarded as n-butyllithium, hexane hazardous waste.

If you want to destroy butyllithium and eliminate the pyrophoric characteristic, continue to with the addition of 99% isopropanol or methanol under dry ice bath, similar to Tilak's procedure. Keep adding alcohol until the lithium hydroxide is dissolved. The resulting 2-layer mixture should be discarded as lithium hydroxide, hexane, and isopropanol/methanol hazardous waste. The mixture is safe to transport to your hazardous waste storage area.

2) If you are not confident that you can destroy it yourself or the amount you're trying to destroy exceeds 1L, leave it in the lab and have your hazardous waste disposal company handle the disposal / lab pack.

Michael Ng
Environmental Health and Safety Manager
Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
Buildings and Grounds
1 University Plaza M101
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Tel: (718)-488-1608
Fax: (718)-488-3337**At_Symbol_Here**

From: "CHANDRA, Tilak" >
Reply-To: DCHAS-L >
Date: Thu, 17 May 2012 08:37:46 -0500
To: >
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] dry butyl lithium

Hi Ellen:

You can carefully decompose/destroy butyl lithium using isopropanol, if it is still active. You may take help from an experience chemist from Chemistry department. Dilute with an unreactive solvent such as heptane or toluene and place the bottle in an ice water cooling bath. Slowly add isopropanol to quench butyl lithium. Upon completion, add methanol as a more reactive quenching agent to ensure completion. Finally, add water drop-wise to make sure there are no pockets of reactive materials. Upon prolonged exposure to air butyl lithium converts to lithium hydroxide, so I do not think that material is still active.

You may also transfer that material using a heavy secondary containment across the campus and butyl lithium is not shock sensitive.



From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Ellen M Sweet
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 3:06 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] dry butyl lithium

Hi everyone,
I have a question that I'm surprised I cannot get an answer to through the normal channels.
We did a small lab cleanout this week and discovered a bottle of butyl lithium, 1.6M solution in hexanes. The hexane is completely dried up.
We've left it in the lab for now. But need to move it to our central waste storage site soon.

Is there a problem with transporting this material across campus?

Ellen Sweet
Hazardous Materials Coordinator
Cornell University Environmental Health and Safety
office: (607) 254-8644
cell: (315) 730-8896

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