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Exothermic reactions used for the production of chemicals present a hazard if they proceed without control. Runaway reactions can result in a blow-off of the reactor top and an emission of reactants and products, possibly followed by a gas explosion. Undesired exothermic reactions initiated during production, purification or storage by excessive temperatures or other causes have similar destructive effects, even if the origin is different. Although the hazards connected with exothermic reactions have been known since the inception of the chemical industry, a systematic knowledge of the possible effects has only been developed in the last 25 years. A number of incidents in the chemical industry, which have been investigated by groups of experts from various companies, have promoted the understanding of these hazards. The author has investigated incidents in plants and tested experimental methods for more than 20 years. In particular he was interested in collecting and comparing safety-relevant data of products. At the end of his industrial career he now believes that it is important to pass on information about this field of activity to younger colleagues who are interested in the safety of chemical plants.
The purpose of this book is to provide a basis for understanding the hazards arising from exothermic reactions. Knowledge of the relevant properties is necessary for a safe processing of products and mixtures. The test methods which have been used and developed together with the increasing understanding of the hazards of reactions are particularly important. A critical survey of extensive experimental techniques is provided.
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