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Boiler and Pressure Vessels Handling

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Special Handling Procedures

Perform high-pressure operations only in special chambers equipped for this purpose. Commercially available high-pressure reactor vessels are designed and manufactured to ensure safe operation when used within the temperature and pressure limits for which they are rated. Any documentation and manuals that pertain to the reactor vessel in use must be thoroughly read, understood, and consulted regularly. However, in the end, it is the user’s responsibility to make sure that the selected vessel is compatible with the reagents and conditions to which it will be exposed during the experiment.

To this end, the user must:  

  • Select a vessel that has the capacity, pressure rating, corrosion resistance, and design features that are suitable for its intended use.
  • Operate the vessel within a suitable barricade/shield, if required.
  • Establish training procedures to ensure that any person handling the equipment knows how to use it properly.
  • Maintain the equipment in good condition, and test periodically per the vendor’s instructions to ensure that the vessel remains structurally sound.
  • Complete a hazard assessment before initiating the experiment, including:
    • Assessment of any intermediates, side-products, and products that may form and their behavior within the vessel, including their corrosive nature and their tendency to violently decompose at elevated temperature and pressure.
    • Determination of maximum temperature and pressure limits expected, taking into account the energetics of the reaction being conducted and any pathways that might cause the reaction to run out of control.
  • Maintain adequate ventilation. This can be achieved by installing the reactor within a fume hood, attaching tubing to the rupture disk that extends to an appropriate exhaust such as the interior of a fume hood, or by ensuring that the lab area as a whole has adequate ventilation and that the reactor is installed near an exhaust fan (in the case of larger reactors).
  • Run preliminary experiments using small quantities of reactants when starting work with new or unfamiliar materials.
  • Use appropriate PPE, including safety glasses, chemical resistant gloves, a lab coat, and also a face shield for operations that present particular hazards.
  • Keep a log of usage for each vessel. Information on the log should include temperature, pressure, reagents/solvents used, and any inspections and tests it has undergone.

Contact Information

Robin McCall-Miller, Occupational Safety Program Manager

Phone: 540-231-2341
Email: rmmiller@vt.edu