Investigating a Serious Runaway Reaction Incident using Reaction Calorimetry

Exothermic, autocatalytic reactions pose a serious risk of runaway and are complex to quantify.


  • Criticality of robust scale-up assessment of thermal hazards
  • Use of ideal calorimetric methods to collect essential process safety data
  • Complexity of quantifying autocatalytic reactions
  • Disproving the myth that a patented process is a safe process

A serious runaway reaction incident occurred in a pilot plant reactor leading to overpressurisation and ignition of the released contents. The damage to the whole manufacturing facility was significant.

Investigation of the incident required the extensive use of reaction calorimetry in characterizing the process, identifying the cause and specifying conditions for future safe manufacture.

About the Presenter

Dr. Stephen Rowe

Dr. Stephen Rowe

DEKRA Organisational and Process Safety UK (B.Sc.(HONS.), Ph.D., PGC, FRSC, MIoD, AMIChemE, CChem)

Steve is the Managing Director of the DEKRA Organisational and Process Safety business in the UK. He graduated in Chemistry in 1991 and completed PhD studies on the control of runaway reactions in 1997. After initial experience in the ICI Hazards and Process Studies Group in Manchester, he joined DEKRA (then Chilworth Technology) in 1991. He has a career background in the assessment of chemical reaction hazards and the laboratory assessment of a full range of process safety hazards including dust, gas and vapour flammability and explosives characterization. He is an experienced trainer and regular contributor to national and international process safety conferences and symposia.