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New testing and research facilities for the study/testing of energetic reactions

It is often necessary and desirable to study flammability, reactivity, and/or thermal instability of materials under actual process/reaction conditions. Small scale testing can produce screening-level results and can be conducted, for most materials, in standard laboratory facilities. However, as the experimental sample size increases or the experiment needs to be conducted under adverse conditions (high pressure and temperature), standard facilities will often prove less than adequate. NFPA 45, “Standard for Fire Protection for Laboratories using Chemicals”, specifies that experiments with TNT explosion potential exceeding 1.0 gram should not be carried out in routine laboratory hoods and that those exceeding 2.0 grams TNT-equivalent should only be conducted in specialized, explosion-protected facilities. (1.0 gram of TNT energy release is approximately 1100 cal.). Although the danger from laboratory-scale explosions will drop off quickly with distance from the explosion, the near field, within the laboratory, could expose technicians to blast overpressure and missiles.

custom testing 1
Flammability test being conducted inside
an enclosure in the Barricade Cell

custom testing 2
Control Room of Barricade Cell #3. Window
allows the scientist to view the experiment

Studies to determine the flammability properties and reaction kinetics of so-called “reactive chemicals” must take place in experimental facilities that are adequately protected from unexpected energetic events. These can result in the explosive failure of test equipment and threaten technicians and test facilities.

The new DEKRA testing and research facilities include four “barricade cells” for the study/testing of energetic systems. The barricade cells are equipped with steam, water, electricity, and gas as well as the capability to monitor the system control parameters from a safe control room area. Blast and missile resistant widows allow direct observation of the experiment. Each cell measures approximately 10’x10’x12’h and is totally contained except for the outer wall. The three walls, ceiling and floor are constructed of heavy reinforced concrete designed to protect technicians should the unexpected occur. The outer wall is designed to relieve explosion over-pressure and direct missiles to a safe area. A 13′ high reinforced concrete retention wall located approximately 12′ in front of the outer walls of the cells ensures shrapnel and missile containment.