Now this is what drives me crazy with all of the accident reports. A newspaper will give some vague description and no great detail. When I used to climb and mountaineer more I used to read a yearly accident report. This listed all the variables of the group and what went wrong and where. On the descent? Improper use of equipment? Etc. I learned a lot. Now all I see is “unknown chemical causes people to go to hospital”. What was it? Why did they get exposed? Etc. Is there such a thing for chemical safety and I don’t know?
This is a perfect example. On this list I have seen several explanations that don’t make tornados. I assumed that they were making a simple demonstration like this
In the interview lady said they had two tornados and she poured more methanol on one and Kaboom. But we won’t know exactly very easily. I also assume that it was a pretty easy demonstration as 99% are in a setting like this.
Chemistry Instructor/Lab and Safety Manager
Western State Colorado University
Did a little girl really get burned the way that witness described. The aunt said her niece was burned all over. I think of Sherri. I pray she is okay.
This is a classic Fisher esterfication, most colleges do it with benzoic acid and methanol. They're only conducted in a fume hood, with a stream bath or an electric mantle, a reflux condenser, but never any open flame.
Hard to believe that they carry this out with the children sitting below eye level with no protection (kids that age, I'm thinking a full glass barrier). I am so happy to see this institute carrying out such demonstrations that have a profound effect on young minds, but I wonder if they had an EHS or RMS specialist ever document the deficiency?
Perhaps there might be a better way to excite the metalloid without the flammable hazard. How does any of this relate to tornados?
James Saccardo, CHMM
Sent from 4G LTE Smartphone
Hard to believe they Demo such experiment using that much flammable solvent.
I was a chemistry teacher in a former life (last year in the classroom was 25 years ago). I’ve never done (nor seen this done) as a demo. In a MUCH smaller ratio, it was (is?) commonly taught in Chemistry II or Chemistry AP as a part of a qualitative inorganic anion analysis scheme (for boron as borate). Anion analysis typically followed weeks of lab work (and therefore technique safety training) on the extensive cation analysis scheme.
Chemist, ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Co.
Does this make sense as the demo being attempted? And Sandra/Fannie are right on when it comes to this incident sounding all too familiar.
-matches, or some source of fire
-glass container with narrow neck
-Solid boric acid --B (OH) 3(s)
-Concentrated sulfuric acid --H2SO4 (l)
-Methanol --CH3OH (l)
-The mixture of B(OH)3(s), H2SO4(l), and CH3OH(l) produces an ester, which is volatile, flammable, and burns with a green flame.
Yes it reminds me of the Rainbow video. Where were the googles and why was it not done in a hood for safety? Poor planning and poor safety management and the poor children.
Senior Lab Associate
University of Cincinnati Clermont
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] on behalf of Koster, Sandra [skoster**At_Symbol_Here**UWLAX.EDU]
Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2014 1:15 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Thirteen people hurt in chemical explosion at Nevada museum
By looking at the second video and the commentary it seems clear that the mixture was not faulty, rather that since one demo was already burning when the methanol was added to the second one, the methanol vapors traveled along the bench to the ignition source and flashed back. Considering the size of the bottle of methanol it could have been much, much worse. I think this is the sort of thing that has happened in the "Rainbow Demonstration". Demonstrators have just got to be trained that having open flammables (or even worse, pouring flammables) plus ignition source is a recipe for disaster.
Sandra Koster, Senior Lecturer
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
On Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 8:55 AM, Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**dchas.org> wrote:
Thirteen people hurt in chemical explosion at Nevada museum
(Reuters) - Thirteen people were hurt, including several children, in a chemical explosion on Wednesday at a museum in Reno, Nevada, where presenters demonstrating a so-called smoke tornado caused the blast with a faulty mixture, officials said.
Seven children and two adults with non-life threatening injuries were transported to a local hospital, and another four people were treated and released at the Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum in Reno where the explosion occurred, said Reno police spokesman Tim Broadway.
The people who were hospitalized had suffered burn injuries, said Matthew Brown, a spokesman for the city of Reno.
Presenters at the museum were trying to create a "smoke tornado" in a visual demonstration they had done before when a faulty mixture of alcohol and boric acid caused the blast, Brown said.
The museum is aimed mainly at children and offers interactive exhibits in geology, astronomy, history and other subjects..
Officials said they did not immediately have details on the ages of the children hurt in the explosion, which they said did not light anything on fire at the museum.
Video report at http://abcnews.go.com/US/13-hurt-science-demo-explosion-reno-museum/story?id=25239485
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