From: Daniel Kuespert <0000057d3b6cd9b7-dmarc-request**At_Symbol_Here**LISTS.PRINCETON.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Horror stories
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 2020 06:23:38 -0400
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU>
Message-ID: E22E7AAC-E13C-4EEA-9D13-66A8198657DC**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <218893d8-4b22-87fa-6ddb-c468e68cda93**At_Symbol_Here**>

Reminds me of the Lab Safety Institute's three-volume series "Learning By Accident." Lots of horror stories in there. I used it as a source for an "Incident of the Week" in class, even.


Daniel Reid Kuespert, PhD, CSP
11101 Wood Elves Way
Columbia, MD 21044

On Oct 16, 2020, at 22:07, davivid <davivid**At_Symbol_Here**WELL.COM> wrote:

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

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