From: davivid <davivid**At_Symbol_Here**WELL.COM>
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Horror stories
Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2020 19:07:31 -0700
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU>
Message-ID: 218893d8-4b22-87fa-6ddb-c468e68cda93**At_Symbol_Here**

This thread about nitric acid distillation got me thinking.

One thing that I think would be useful, educational, and entertaining is
a collection of laboratory "Horror Stories". I'm sure every experienced
chemist has a few. These could be a means of motivating and educating
the public as well as other chemists. Think of these as chemistry
"morality tales". No obtuse jargon, no lengthy analysis. Just some good
old fashioned story telling. Youtube channel anyone?

A couple of my favorites

A low boiling solvent condensed in a liquid nitrogen cooled trap. When
the dewar was removed the twisted vacuum tubing flipped the trap upside
down sending the cold solvent into the rotary vacuum pump that had been
running overnight. The overpressure created by flash boiling when the
solvent hit the hot oil split the pump casing at the casting seam.

Another one

There was an attempt to grind a material in a ball mill. Unfortunately
the material was too soft. So the researcher added liquid nitrogen,
sealed up the heavy ceramic ball mill and proceeded to grind as usual.
Fortunately they mentioned their cleverness to a supervisor who promptly
had everyone get to safety before the inevitable explosion.

Dave Lane
Clavis Technology Development

For more information about the DCHAS-L e-mail list, contact the Divisional membership chair at membership**At_Symbol_Here**
Follow us on Twitter **At_Symbol_Here**acsdchas

Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.