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Pressure and Vacuum Systems

Working with hazardous chemicals at high or low pressures requires planning and special precautions. Procedures should be implemented to protect against explosion or implosion through appropriate equipment selection and the use of safety shields. Car

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Working with hazardous chemicals at high or low pressures requires planning and special precautions. Procedures should be implemented to protect against explosion or implosion through appropriate equipment selection and the use of safety shields. Care should be taken to select glass apparatus that can safely withstand designated pressure extremes.

Pressure Vessels

High-pressure operations should be performed only in pressure vessels appropriately selected for the operation, properly labeled and installed, and protected by pressure-relief and necessary control devices. Vessels must be strong enough to withstand the stresses encountered at the intended operating temperatures and pressures and must not corrode or otherwise react when in contact with the materials it contains. Systems designed for use at elevated temperatures should be equipped with a positive temperature controller. Manual temperature control using a simple variable autotransformer, such as a Variac, should be avoided. The use of a back-up temperature controller capable of shutting the system down is strongly recommended.

All pressure equipment should be inspected and tested at intervals determined by the severity of the equipment's usage. Visual inspections should be accomplished before each use. Hydrostatic testing should be accomplished before equipment is placed in initial service. Hydrostatic testing should be re-accomplished every ten years thereafter, after significant repair or modification, or if the vessel experiences overpressure or overtemperature. Contact the University Safety Engineer at 258-5294 for more information about hydrostatic testing.

Vacuum Apparatus

Vacuum work can result in an implosion and the possible hazards of flying glass, spattering chemicals, and fire. Personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses or chemical goggles, face shields, and/or an explosion shield should be used to protect against the hazards of vacuum procedures, and the procedure should be carried out inside a hood.

Water, solvents, and corrosive gases should not be drawn into vacuum systems. Pumps should be protected by cold traps and their exhaust should be vented into an exhaust hood.

Glass Vessels

Although glass vessels are frequently used in pressure and vacuum systems, they can explode or implode violently, either spontaneously from the strain or from an accidental blow. Therefore, pressure and vacuum operations in glass vessels should be conducted behind adequate shielding. Glass vessels should be designed for the operation intended, and should be visually checked for star cracks, scratches, or etching marks before each use.

Rotary Evaporators

Glass components of the rotary evaporator should be made of Pyrex or similar glass and completely enclosed in a shield to guard against flying glass should the components implode. The rotation speed and application of vacuum should be done gradually when using a rotary evaporator.