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Phenyl formaldehyde resins-disaster (case study). By Sonali Chavan Harshavardhan Chaudhari Saurabh Das Rohit Deora. Phenyl formaldehyde resins.

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phenyl formaldehyde resins disaster case study

Phenyl formaldehyde resins-disaster (case study)




Saurabh Das


phenyl formaldehyde resins
Phenyl formaldehyde resins
  • The reaction of phenol or substituted phenol with an aldehyde, in the presence of an acidic or basic catalyst is used to prepare phenolic resins.
  • Uses: Phenolic resins are used in adhesives, coatings, and molding compounds.
  • Heat of reaction: -180 cal/g
  • Two step process:
  • Methylolation
  • Salification
process description
Process description
  • Reaction in stirred vessel with condensor.
  • Provision for heating and cooling.
  • T=60oC, 37% wt. aq. formaldehyde + caustic soda, Phenol in molten state.
  • Stoichiometric amount of Caustic soda (30% wt. solution) addition over 30 mins at 50oC.
  • Emergency relief on the reactor is usually provided by rupture disks.

Type of catalyst used, the ratio of reactants, and the reaction conditions determine the molecular structure and physical properties.

  • Highly exothermic and sensitive to a variety of physical and chemical conditions.
  • Heat generated by the reaction increases the reaction rate generating more heat.
  • Reaction rate is typically an exponential function of temperature
  • Pressure of the system will increase suddenly due to the vigorous evaporation of liquid.
  • Internal Pressure > Ultimate tensile strength
  • Thermal runaway !!!
case study
Case study
  • On September 10, 1997 the Georgia- Pacific Resins plant in Columbus experienced a large explosion in a resin kettle (reactor).
  • 8,000-gallon batch reactor
  • The explosion resulted from a runaway reaction in Kettle No. 2.
  • The reactor’s safety systems failed to contain the rapidly expanding gases
what happened
What happened?
  • An operator charged raw materials and catalyst to the reactor and turned on steam to heat the contents.
  • A high temperature alarm sounded and the operator turned off the steam.
  • There was a large, highly energetic explosion.
  • Separation of the top of the reactor from the shell.
  • A nearby holding tank was destroyed and another reactor was partially damaged.
  • Operator killed, 4 injured, 3 firemen burned severely.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration slapped the company with $400000 fine.
  • Residents within a ¾ mile radius of the facility were evacuated.
  • People complaining of burning of skin, rashes, sore throat, headaches, breathing problems due to bronchitis, burning of throat, and nausea.
  • All the raw materials and catalyst were charged to the reactor at once followed by the addition of heat.
  • Heat generated exceeded the cooling capacity of the system
  • Excessive pressure generated by a runaway reaction.
  • Pressure generated could not be vented through the emergency relief system.
runaway due to
Runaway due to
  • Accumulation of Formaldehyde
  • Deviation from process
  • Poor agitation
  • Improper heating or cooling
lessons learned
Lessons learned
  • Thorough hazard assesment
  • Complete identification of reaction chemistry and thermochemistry
  • Administrative controls
  • Temperature control
  • Addition of raw materials
  • Emergency relief
  • Learning from accident history and near misses
steps to reduce hazards
Steps To Reduce Hazards
  • Modify processes to improve inherent safety.
  • Minimize the potential for human error.
  • Understand events that may lead to an overpressure and eventually to vessel rupture.
  • Use lessons learned.
  • Evaluate Standard Operating Practices.
  • Evaluate employee training and oversight.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the emergency relief system.
social impact
Social Impact

Concerns regarding future accidents:

  • Fear that the GPRI plant will experience another serious accident
  • The railroad and other plants in the area could also have a chemical accident
  • Concern that residents wouldn’t even know if an accident takes place (no alarm)
  • Residents have no information on what to do in the event of an accident (evacuation?)
  • Concern that a warning will come too late
  • Concerns about children at school or children being caught in a vapor cloud
  • Concern for elderly and sick people who may not hear or respond to a warning
  • When we see fire trucks or hear a loud noise, we don’t know what is going on
social impact13
Social Impact

Concerns regarding air emissions and odors

  • Reports of chemical smells and/or burning eyes
  • Experiences with odors, burning eyes, and visual plumes from the plant
  • Concern about formaldehyde emissions from Georgia Pacific Plant
  • Awareness that formaldehyde is highly toxic
  • General concern that air in the area is not healthy
  • Awareness of other emission sources in area (including large numbers of trucks)
  • Concern that high rates of asthma and other illness that may be attributable to air emissions
  • Concern that Ohio EPA doesn’t do enough to reduce air pollution in the area