Guidelines for identifying and mitigating thermal hazards of sustainable materials


  • This article is originally presented at American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 2011 Spring Meeting, 7th Global Congress on Process Safety, Chicago, Illinois on March 13–16, 2011.


Sustainable materials and technologies (a.k.a. “green”) are those that are “delivered with progressively less negative impact upon the Earth.” Thermal hazards such as self-heating, thermal runaway, fires, and explosions may be associated with a particular sustainable material or process technology. Thermal hazards are a result of the interaction between the exothermic reactivity of the material and the processing or storage conditions (e.g., environment, temperature, duration, size, and configuration). These materials and technologies may pose thermal hazards that only become apparent at large-scale production and storage levels. With the move toward developing sustainable materials and technologies, many potential new hazardous scenarios for established organizations or for start-up companies may be identified only during final developmental stages. For example, scaling processing up from pilot to full-scale may lead to large enough material volumes that thermal hazards that were not identified at the pilot level become significant. Another example may be the increased size of stockpiles of materials required for full-scale operations. This article aims to provide an overview of several sustainable materials and green technology areas with a discussion of the potential thermal hazards presented. The article will provide guidance for identifying potential thermal hazards in systems and for developing successful prevention and mitigation schemes against fires and explosions. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog, 2011