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Thermal process safety is about ensuring that chemical reactions in a manufacturing facility are kept under control, so thermal runaway does not occur, and explosions are avoided. In chemical processing, raw materials react together to produce the final product. When these materials meet, they may generate heat – an exothermic reaction.
If the process is not designed correctly, the heat generated by these reactions may not be removed fast enough. That can dramatically increase pressure on the production vessel.
In the ‘best’ case scenario, this would force the plant to halt and could result in damage to equipment. In the worst case, this could result in explosions, injury to staff, damage to the surrounding environment or even a major accident.
Control of exothermic reactions is therefore essential, and manufacturers must ensure that their processes are designed to avoid these hazards, while putting controls in place in case the worst happens.
Broadly speaking, there are two major kinds of chemical reaction hazards:
Controlling chemical reaction hazards is about avoiding explosions due to chemical reactions (runaway of desired synthesis, secondary or decomposition reactions, build-up of pressure). You must identify the hazards associated with chemical reaction and define measures to control the hazards.
If exothermic reactions are not controlled, there is a risk of thermal runaway. Runaway happens when the rate at which heat is removed increases linearly, whereas the rate at which heat is produced increases exponentially. Getting in control of exothermic reactions helps you:
Avoid explosions and runaway
Explosions can lead to toxic liquids or gases being released into the surrounding environment, injuring staff and the wider public
Scale up from lab to plant
Processes which are perfectly safe in the lab environment may become hazardous when scaled up to the plant environment, so it is essential to conduct in-depth testing and analysis
Limit down time
Any thermal runaway will mean you must stop processes, which costs time and money
Conducting due diligence is vital for compliance with Thermal Process Safety, Chemical Reaction hazards and Control of Exothermic reactions regulations
Prepare for the worst
Design and test plans in case of cooling failure scenarios, secondary reactions or loss of containment
With 40+ years of experience and decades of Swissi heritage, we are proud to call ourselves world leaders in all aspects of industrial thermal process safety.
TÜV SÜD employs globally renowned experts such as Francis Stoessel to inform our work and we regularly produce technical publications on topics related to chemical reaction hazards. We are also continuously innovating and developing new ways of testing chemical processes in our ISO 17025 accredited lab to stay at the forefront of research in this field.
We know just how important safety is for you and your customers, and our teams, led by Francis Stoessel, bring together a wide range of expertise and experience assessing existing plants and new chemical processes. We can help you improve thermal process safety at any stage of your production.
We bring you:
We provide you with comprehensive support services for all stages of chemical production processes. Wherever you are, we provide a supportive, efficient and constructive service to help you achieve your goals.
Scale up from lab to plant
If you have developed a new product in the lab and wish to scale up, we consult with you to assess potential hazards and help make your product a success
Assess risks in plants
We have decades of experience assessing risks in plant processes such as chemical runaway and secondary reactions
We help you assess potential risks, select risk reducing measures and implement disaster management plans
We advise on decommissioning plants in the safest way possible
Compliance and certification
We conduct neutral and impartial audits and can provide certification in multiple jurisdictions worldwide
Our subservices include: