Chemical Safety: An Unexpected Explosion | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 40 | p. 4 | Letters
Issue Date: October 6, 2008

Chemical Safety: An Unexpected Explosion

Department: Letters | Collection: Safety Letters

The potassium salt of 2,4,6-trinitroso-1,3,5-benzenetriol, prepared in our laboratory precisely according to the literature procedure of R. Benedikt (Chem. Ber. 1878, 11, 1374), unexpectedly exploded. 1,3,5-Benzenetriol (1 g, 7.9 mmol) dissolved in 30 mL of H2O and 3 mL of glacial acetic acid was cooled at 6-9 °C and 3 equivalents of potassium nitrite (2 g, 23.7 mmol) in 2 mL water was added. The reaction mixture immediately became brownish and was stirred an additional 30 minutes. Potassium hydroxide (1.4 g, 23.7 mmol) was added, followed by 10 mL of ethanol. The precipitate of dark green crystals was filtered off to give the potassium salt (48%), which was stored in a covered flask on the bench. An hour and a half later, it exploded spontaneously, damaging some glass containers. According to the original report, 2,4,6-trinitroso-1,3,5-benzenetriol decomposes on heating at 130 °C.

Alan R. Katritzky
Gainesville, Fla.

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