Chemical Reaction Hazards

Exothermic chemical reactions carry with them an inherent risk of loss of control with potentially devastating effects on life and the environment.

The understanding of chemical reactions and material reactivity is a critical element of safe chemical processing. Exothermic chemical reactions are performed the world over by companies as part of their normal manufacturing operations. Often such reactions are inherent in the transformation we are undertaking, for example the conversion of styrene to polystyrene – on other occasions however  these may be unintended reactions which are not part of the processing plan, for example the decomposition of a material due to contamination or over-temperature exposure arising from an operator mistake or plant failure.

The identification, assessment and characterisation of both intended and, more importantly, unintended exothermic reactions, is critical for ensuring the safe scale-up and operation of a chemical process.

How Chilworth Can Help

We offer independent Consultancy advice carrying out chemical reaction hazard assessments in order to identify and quantify potentially hazardous reactions, be they desired or by accident. As part of this we will, if necessary, design an experimental program in order to generate the necessary data to define a Basis of Safety for safe operation. This will include characterisation of the controlled process, that is, running as desired, and identification of credible failure scenarios, or process upset conditions, resulting in a possible runaway reaction and their experimental characterisation.  

Characterisation of the controlled process is used to define the control or prevention measures necessary to remain within the envelope of safe working conditions. Data from characterisation of the of the process upset condition is utilised to help design the protection measure used on the plant. For example high integrity process control systems or emergency pressure relief (DIERS).

In the field of exothermic chemical reactions and thermal runaway, our Good Laboratory Practice (GLP)  and ISO 9001 compliant laboratories are equipped to measure physical properties of a controlled reaction and measurement of the consequences of loss of control, that is thermal runaway.

Chemical Reaction Hazards Banner

Reaction Characterisation and Reagent Thermal Stability

  • Predictive thermochemical calculations (CHETAH)
  • Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC)
  • Carius tube (with measurement of gases evolved)
  • Accelerating rate calorimetry (ARC)
  • Reaction Calorimetry using Mettler RC1 including reactions under pressure and at reflux
  • Measurement of gas evolved
  • Qualitative analysis of evolved gases using mass spectrometry

Runaway Characterisation and Emergency Pressure Relief

  • Adiabatic Accelerating Rate Calorimetry (ARC) for advanced stability analyses
  • ADC II Adiabatic Dewar Calorimetry for runaway reaction simulation and generation of data for vent sizing
  • Vent Sizing Package (VSP)Adiabatic Calorimetry for runaway reaction simulation and generation of data for vent sizing

Chilworth's laboratories in the UK can handle most chemical reagents , even if they are toxic, highly potent or a controlled substance and can offer a fast turnaround service if required.

Because we enter into a partnership with our clients, we strive to ensure that only essential testing is undertaken, that our reports are comprehensive and meaningful, and that specialists are on hand to provide expert advice on the interpretation of results Our commitment to customer satisfaction means that we will work with you to tailor our testing and reporting to your specific process safety needs and within budget..

Independent Professional Advice

It doesn’t just stop with measuring a heat of reaction or a rate of gas generation, it is what that data means in the context of a manufacturing process.  Our Process Safety Specialists will interpret the data and provide independent consulting advice on safe process operation and guidance on the choice and design of protection measures including emergency pressure relief systems, utilising the Design Institute for Emergency Relief Systems (DIERS) methodologies in the evnt of multiphase flow or API 520 for single phase flow events.

Because of our unique capabilities and experience, our laboratories in the UK are not only able to undertake a wide range of tests to internationally recognised standards, but we can also undertake custom projects for testing of materials that may sit more closely with real world activities. The full range of laboratory testing we offer can be found in the Chilworth Testing Guide, available from our online library.

We are here to support all your laboratory testing needs, contact us today for a demonstration of our industry respected, GLP and ISO 9001 accredited service.

Talk to a consultant

Dr Stephen Rowe
Dr Stephen Rowe

Managing Director - Process Safety UK 023 8076 0722

The Chilworth Difference


  • Working to ISO9001 & OHSAS 18001 standards, and with formal GLP accreditation for our UK laboratories, you can rely on DEKRA Insight data. No other UK laboratory can offer this level of quality assurance.

Track Record

  • DEKRA Insight staff have cumulatively accrued over 375 years experience in providing tailored and quality Process Safety Data to local and global customers. We are part of the DEKRA group, a global leader in Industrial Safety.

Multiple Facilities

  • DEKRA Insight has four laboratories across three continents covering a wide range of global standards. This guarantees that larger projects can be executed in parallel to offer unrivalled turnaround times.


  • Because DEKRA Insight manufacture and service Process Safety equipment, downtime and delays are exceptional. Our number one priority is our customers‘ needs.

Unrivalled Support

  • Our global team helps you select the appropriate programme for your specific needs, with their intimate knowledge of data interpretation and application to specific plant situations. Support is available in a range of languages worldwide to local and global companies.

Capability & Versatility

  • DEKRA Insight offers the widest range of Process Safety Testing services to numerous global standards, with the ability to handle highly hazardous materials and licences for Controlled Substances. We specialise in tailoring tests to your specific needs.

Library items


Chilworth Testing Capabilities

Chilworth Technology can provide a wide range of laboratory testing services globally. This document details the range of texts we can undertake at our facilities.

Download document


Reaction Calorimetry

Do you understand the thermochemistry and kinetics of your reactions? This datasheet explains some of the benefits of Reaction Calorimetry data for process safety and scale-up.

Download document

Become a subscriber

Benefits to subscribing:

  • Access to our latest datasheets and publications
  • Exclusive publication downloads 
  • Latest news and regulatory information

Register Now

Make an enquiry Required fields are marked *

To talk to us about any of our services, give us a call on +44 (0)23 8076 0722.
Alternatively fill out this form and we'll get in touch;

Send enquiry