Industrial Fire Familiarization: The Highs and Lows of the pH World

Industrial Fire Familiarization: The Highs and Lows of the pH World

While many different ingredients and chemicals are used in the processing industry, there are a certain few standout materials that seem to be a recurring danger. Whether it be 0, or a 14, the extremes of the pH world are shall not be underestimated when it comes to an emergency. Today, we will profile some of the more predominant acids and bases in the refining world today.

Sodium Hydroxide

NaOH, also known as “Lye” in its solid form resembles that of white pellets or beads. While having a pH of 14, its solid form does present less handling hazards and issues than its solution form or “Soda”. NaOH when in its solution form with water, creates a liquid caustic also with elevated pH readings. Caustic soda is used for many different process related instances including pulp and paper manufacturing, soaps, detergents, and drain cleaners. (More info here!)

Sulfuric Acid

Sulfuric acid in its physical state is a liquid unlike NaOH. With a specific gravity of ~1.84, the acid can be thick, almost oily looking at times. The acid, in some cases, can play a vital role in gasoline manufacture by making the process of Alkylation possible. Sulfuric acid can be manufactured in a few different ways, however in most cases the process begins with burning sulfur, and the liberated Sulfur Dioxide gas. (More here!)

Hydrofluoric Acid

HF is widely known in the HAZMAT and industrial communities for not only its corrosive attributes, but also its toxic effects. As an aqueous solution, its dangers are mostly limited to contact based injuries. As like other corrosive materials, severe burns and tissue damage are a common injury associated with contact. Some studies suggest that along with a moderate skin exposure to HF, hypocalcemia can develop, leading to cardiac arrest in some cases. HF can also be used in the Alkylation refining process, depending upon what the specific unit is designed for, and this seems to be the more modern trend for refining.  (More!)

About The Author

Ryan Henry currently serves as the training officer for two volunteer fire departments in Calcasieu Parish Louisiana. Ryan also works in operations at a major gulf coast oil refinery, and serves as an ERT firefighter, as well as their Hazardous Material Response Team Training Coordinator. Ryan holds an AAS degree in Process Plant Technology and currently serves as a LSU/FETI Lead Evaluator for Louisiana.

HazSim Pro training system has been used to train across the U.S since 2011. Trainers in HazMat and Confined Space realized that ‘tapping the student on the shoulder’ was NOT effective training. This system uses NO hazardous materials and although may not look exactly like your front line meter, shows the important data which the all students needs to learn to ‘react’ to. Click HERE for video of setting up the system. Click this link for customers in action using the HazSim to better train responders. Click HERE for a quote.

 

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