REACTION CALORIMETRY

Often, chemical incidents are due to a loss of the reaction control, resulting in runaway process. Many of these incidents can be foreseen and avoided, if an appropriate analysis of thermal process data is performed in the proper way and in due time[1-9]. Chemical process safety is seldom part of university curricula and many professionals do not have the appropriate knowledge to interpret thermal data, collected during the reaction course, in terms of risks. Process safety is often considered as highly specialized matter, thus companies employ specialists in their safety departments. However, safety knowledge is also required, where processes are developed or performed, that is in process development departments and production. Therefore, AKTS[6] has developed a new Reaction Calorimetry software (called ‘AKTS-Reaction Calorimetry software’) dedicated to ‘synthesis’ reactions (referred to in the text as ‘desired’ reactions) and techniques allowing those to be mastered at an industrial scale.

The approach focuses on the dynamic stability of chemical reactors and criteria to be used for the assessment of such stability. The behaviour of reactors under normal operating conditions is a prerequisite for safe operation, but is not sufficient by itself. Therefore, different reactor types can be considered in terms of their specific safety problems, particularly in the case of deviations from their normal operating conditions. This requires a specific approach for any type of reaction kinetics and each reactor type, including a study of the mass and heat balances, which are the basis of safe temperature control. The analysis of the different reactor types and the general principles used in their design and temperature control enable the investigation of the ‘desired’ and ‘undesired’ reactions (formation of by-products and thermal decomposition), including the possibility to study the thermal behaviour in cases where the temperature control system fails (adiabatic temperature mode). Such systematic consideration of a broad variety of reaction systems and user friendly software represent the backbone of this new software, in which the techniques used for the optimization of the reactions and assessment of thermal risks are presented in a logical and understandable way, with a strong link to industrial practice.