Loss Prevention by Thermal Compatibility Tests,
SWISS FEDERAL PROPELLANT PLANT WIMMIS
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In April 1980, a fire destroyed a during house in the Swiss Federal Propellant Plant. At that time a propellant of a new composition was stored there. Although the product had been tested previously and found to be of good stability and therefore safe, we came to the conclusion that it was the reason for the fire. This assumption proved to be correct. For the investigation different types of thermal test methods were used temperature-programmed DSCDTA-measurements, Isothermal DSCDTA and heat accumulation tests. The results of these tests and their respective conclusions are presented. The reveal that even in a case where the heat production at process temperature is below the detectable limits this unmeasurable small heat production may be sufficient to produce a thermal explosion, provided the mass of propellant is sufficiently high. Reference is made to work on this subject which was done in the Swiss chemical industry. A concept is presented to examine compatibility with a simple, low-cost DTA-measurement and a heat accumulation test. The propellant responsible for the fire was used as test substance. It was proved that with tests of this kind such a composition could have been detected as dangerous and incidents such as the fire mentioned above can therefore be prevented successfully.