Trifluoroethylene deflagration

Andrew E. Feiring; Jon D. Hulburt
DuPont Specialty Chemicals, DuPont Central R&D, Wilmington, Del.

Chemical & Engineering News (22 Dec 1997) Vol. 75, No. 51, pp. 6.

Trifluoroethylene (CAS Registry Number 359-11-5) vapor can deflagrate with considerable violence under certain conditions, a hazard that does not appear to have been reported in the chemical literature.

The trifluoroethylene cited here was a commercial sample, free of air, and was not scrubbed to remove the terpene polymerization inhibitor. In a test conducted at 200 psig and 27 C in a 200-mL pressure vessel rated at 45,000 psi, trifluoroethylene deflagrated in the presence of a fused nichrome wire ignitor. Initial loading density was targeted for 0.06 g per cc. On ignition, pressure rose to approximately 2,331 psig and temperature rose accordingly. This was the lowest pressure tested. Tests at higher initial pressures gave similar results with appropriately greater increases in pressure.

Our results are preliminary and additional testing would be required to define safe handling conditions for trifluoroethylene. We encourage users to take appropriate precautions. By analogy to tetrafluoroethylene, presence of the usual inhibitors for free radical polymerization is unlikely to eliminate the deflagration hazard from trifluoroethylene.

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