The chemical industry is increasingly expanding into the pharmaceuticals and speciality chemicals sectors. As a result, there is an increasing dependence in the sector on the existence of smaller, more flexible enterprises (SMEs) capable of providing specialised skills and products in niche markets. It is estimated that around 20% of these businesses carry out exothermic reactions or other chemical processing operations that require detailed investigations of the associated reactive hazards and the design and installation of safety venting systems. In the past, many criteria have been developed to determine whether a runaway - an excessive increase of the reaction temperatures, which cannot be kept within acceptable limits by the cooling system of the reactor - will occur. All these criteria have the disadvantage that the reactor dynamics cannot be taken into account. This project addressed the needs to detect runaway initiation in advance allowing countermeasures to be taken and to design emergency relief systems for chemical reaction hazards whilst still protecting the environment. The project produced an early warning detection system (EWDS) detection device as well as guidelines for use by SMEs.
This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.
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