Fire and explosion hazards related to the industrial use of potassium and sodium methoxides

Abstract : Sodium and potassium methoxides are used as an intermediary for a variety of products in several industrial applications. For example, current production of so called '1G-biodiesel' relies on processing a catalytic reaction called 'transesterification'. This reaction transforms lipid resources from biomass materials into fatty acid methyl and ethyl esters. 1-G biodiesel processes imply the use of methanol, caustic potash (KOH), and caustic soda (NaOH) for which the hazards are well characterized. The more recent introduction of the direct catalysts CH3OK and CH3ONa may potentially introduce new process hazards. From an examination of existing MSDSs concerning these products, it appears that no consensus currently exists on their intrinsic hazardous properties. Recently, l'Institut National de l'Environnement Industriel et des Risques (France) and the Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory (Canada) have embarked upon a joint effort to better characterize the thermal hazards associated with these catalysts. This work employs the more conventional tests for water reactivity as an ignition source, fire and dust explosion hazards, using isothermal nano-calorimetry, isothermal basket tests, the Fire Propagation Apparatus and a standard 20 L sphere, respectively. It was found that these chemicals can become self-reactive close to room temperature under specific conditions and can generate explosible dusts.
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Queenie Kwok, Barbara Acheson, Richard Turcotte, Agnès Janes, Guy Marlair. Fire and explosion hazards related to the industrial use of potassium and sodium methoxides. Journal of Hazardous Materials, Elsevier, 2013, 250-251, pp.484-490. ⟨10.1016/j.jhazmat.2013.01.075⟩. ⟨ineris-00963459⟩

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