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The Incident

A solution of N-Bromosuccinimide in ~2.5 volumes 1-Methyl-2-Pyrrolidinone had been prepared in a reactor for a process and held at room temperature whilst awaiting addition to the substrate solution in 1-Methyl-2-pyrrolidinone in an adjacent reactor.  The mixture self-heated from ambient temperature to ~70°C, causing a minor incident.

The Investigation

Subsequent calorimetry showed that this mixture can runaway to a temperature >100°C


This was a chance discovery. The chemicals are quite common, and it was rather surprising that the incompatibility had never been published elsewhere.  The initial hazard evaluation had not seen the problem, this only really showed up on large scale up.

Lessons Learnt

One can never be certain that all possible elements have been covered.  Even with a lot of experience, there is always the one unsuspecting item that will catch one out.

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