From: "Nail, John" <jnail**At_Symbol_Here**OKCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] SIUE Incident (Headlines)
Date: Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:56:58 +0000
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: D203427B.B642%jnail**At_Symbol_Here**

If you are scratching your head over the SIUE incident -

There is no such thing as 'tetrahydroflorine'; H4F doesn't exist. Likely,
the 'tetrahydroflorine' is tetrahydrofuran (THF; formula C4H8O).

My guess is that this involved a synthetic chemistry research lab that
produces O2- and water- free THF by distilling it from potassium, possibly
potassium/diphenylketone, and the student was cleaning out a still.

From the perspective of someone who used to maintain a THF still, cleaning
out the pot was always a form of Russian roulette. Despite how careful,
patient and deliberate you are in the task, there is always the chance of
a bad thing happening. The chances increase if diphenylketone (the blue
solution stuff) was used in the still pot. The bad thing odds increase
when you try to hurry it because you need to go somewhere (class,
meetings, lunch, home, etc.).

As an aside, a major lab fire happened at U Texas in the early 1990's when
someone was cleaning out a solvent still and poured the remains into the
sink before all of the sodium or potassium had decomposed. The Na or K
started a sink fire, which caught a glass collection bottle of acetone on
fire; multiple lab rooms were gutted.

John Nail
Professor of Chemistry
Oklahoma City Univerity

>Tags: us_IL, laboratory, explosion, injury, other_chemical
>A student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville was injured
>Tuesday afternoon when a mixture of chemicals he was working with in a
>science laboratory exploded.
>The 23-year-old student was working with a beaker containing
>tetrahydroflorine and potassium exploded, causing a small fire.
>The student suffered cuts to both of his hands. He was treated by
>emergency medical services and taken to Anderson hospital.
>The university's new Science Building was evacuated after the explosion
>but is expected to re-open Tuesday night.

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