Epoxy Material Generates Smoke

An exothermic reaction started in a steel reservoir located inside a convection oven which contained approximately 1.5 lbs of epoxy resin. This uncontrolled reaction created temperatures above 900 degrees F inside the reservoir and resulted in a large volume of odor and smoke being evolved. Two buildings were evacuated as a precaution. Researchers conducting the experiment did not have adequate experience/data with the particular resin in use to predict exothermic characteristics for the volume of resin remaining in the reservoir after infusion.

Lessons Learned:

  1. When an exothermic reaction cannot be handled safely or when smoke/odors from an exothermic reaction cannot be controlled by the laboratory ventilation system designed for that purpose or when fire exists:
    1. Pull the fire alarm
    2. Exit the area immediately, close all doors
    3. Control entrances/exits to the area/building to ensure the safety of personnel in the area
    4. Call 911 and notify EHS immediately.
  2. Plan for the unexpected in all experiments by conducting a process review for all experiments, especially new procedures and when new chemicals are used. Process reviews should include members from the department, not associated with the lab group or DEHS to provide a different perspective.

If you have any questions please contact contact the Chemical Hygiene Officer at dehsafety@udel.edu or call 302-831-8475.