Explosion with sodium azide
Victor J. Hruby; Lakmal Boteju; Guigen Li
Chemical & Engineering News (11 Oct 1993) Vol. 71, No. 41, pp. 2.
We would like to echo the warning of N. P. Peat and P. M. Weintraub (C&EN, April 19, page 4). We had a similar experience during rotary evaporation of methylene chloride following an SN2 azide displacement reaction. A violent explosion destroyed the rotary evaporator and the cold finger traps to the vacuum pump. Fortunately, the experimenter was some distance from the rotary evaporator and suffered only minor injuries and returned to work the next day.
As discussed by Peat and Weintraub, undoubtedly, our detonations
were caused by diazidomethane. We likewise have instituted a policy
in our laboratory that no reactions with azide be performed in the
presence of halogenated solvents, and to carefully review any
reactions in our laboratory involving azide. Since there are many
literature procedures in which azide reactions are run in
halogenated solvents or cosolvents, including our own
[Tetrahedron,48, 4733 (1992)], we strongly urge that all synthetic
laboratories institute policies to avoid azide reactions in
halogenated solvents or cosolvents.
page last revised December 7, 1998