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T2 Runaway Reaction and Explosion


Ronald J. Willey (Northeastern University)


The main reason for the explosion at T2 Laboratories, Inc. was the lack of understanding of the hazards involved in dealing with a potential runaway reaction. This product emphasizes the following:

  • A runaway reaction is a reaction that can no longer be controlled in the existing equipment, and exothermic reactions can run away, especially when (potentially unknown) secondary exothermic reactions can occur at higher than expected temperatures (sometime termed temperatures of no return).
  • All major processes should have a complete hazard identification study completed beforehand and revisited regularly after the process is built.

The main source of information for this product is the T2 CSB report cited in the references. This product includes a PowerPoint presentation including lecture notes. An example problem based on this accident is available in the textbook by Scott Fogler entitled “Essentials of Chemical Reaction Engineering” (Prentice-Hall, 2011).

Student access: The slide summary with notes is available to students logged into the site.

Suggested courses that can use this product

  • Chemical Reactions/Kinetics
  • Design
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