Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Holy cow, that hood

Via a random Google search, I have discovered a scholarly work from Ms. Victoria Carhart of the University of Vermont, comparing the response of UCLA, the University of  Minnesota and the University of Vermont to chemical safety incidents. [1]

Quite the photograph in the chapter about UVM (to left); that hood took a real beating. The reason the hood caught fire is not made clear.

(There's probably quite the literature of hood disaster pics, but I've never quite seen one so interesting.)

1. Carhart, Victoria, "A Comparative Examination of the Safety Programs at UCLA, UMN, and UVM in Response to Recent Chemistry Laboratory Incidents" (2015). Graduate College Dissertations and Theses. Paper 430.


  1. Our lab after fridge explosion and fire two years ago - the large fridge was reduced into a little ash heap just two feet tall. The fridge door blew across the lab (fortunately in the middle of the night when no-one was around), narrowly missed the NMR magnet, bounced off from the cement floor, hit the NMR console and broke hurricane-proof windowpane. The drywalls and cheap lab furniture from particle board was pushed by several inches by the force of the blast. The air ducts came crashing down from the ceiling. Most of the greasy soot was likely produced by burning acrylic plastic - from three large safety blast shields that were stored on top of the fridge that blew up. The sprinklers put the fire out before it spread to some 300liters of ether, MTBE, hexane, heptane, acetone, THF etc stored nearby, a hydrogen tank, two tanks of ethylene oxide and a giant plastic drum full of ether waste,... About kilo and half bottle of diphosgene get blown out from that fridge, hit the cement floor but did not break, the bottle rested sidewayson the floor, in a pool of burning liquid - the cap was all singed. If that bottle broke, or if ethylene oxide tanks caught on fire, we would have had a lot bigger evacuation, probably the entire incubator building. Even then, the flood and soot damage was pretty extensive, it took the entire month to rebuild the chemistry lab.



  2. I take it the refrigerator was not an explosion-proof model?

  3. Was that one of those fiberglass reinforced plastic fume hoods? I was always uncomfortable with them, having had a hood fire/explosion once in my childhood.

  4. Whew, they were damn lucky at UCLA that the solvent drums (Fig 3 of the thesis) didn't also get ignited during the incident.