Oscillatory thermal instability - the Bhopal disaster and liquid bombs
Thermal runaway reactions were involved in the Bhopal disaster of 1984, in which methyl isocyanate was vented from a storage tank of the liquid, and occur in liquid peroxide explosions, yet to date there have been few investigations into the mechanism of thermal runaway in such liquid thermoreactive systems. Consequently protocols for storing thermally unstable liquids and deactivating liquid bombs may be suboptimal. In this work the hydrolysis of methyl isocyanate and the thermal decomposition of triacetone triperoxide were simulated using a gradientless, continuous-flow reactor paradigm. This approximation enabled stability analyses on the steady state solutions of the dynamical mass and enthalpy equations. The results indicate that thermal runaway in both systems is due to the onset of a large amplitude, hard thermal oscillation initiated at a subcritical Hopf bifurcation. This type of thermal misbehaviour cannot be predicted using classical ignition theory, and may be typical of liquid thermoreactive systems. The mechanism of oscillatory thermal instability on the nanoscale is elucidated.
- Pub Date:
- May 2011
- Physics - Chemical Physics;
- Mathematics - Dynamical Systems;
- Nonlinear Sciences - Adaptation and Self-Organizing Systems
- This article was commissioned as a chapter for a forthcoming book "Nanotechnology Research and The Millenium Development Goals", editor Thomas Faunce, to be published by Pan Stanford. It is based on a previous article (see arXiv:1007.1487v1) but includes new analyis of the thermal stability of triacetone triperoxide and discussion of the nanoscale origins of oscillatory thermal instability