AU scientists develop safer method for handling high-risk reagents

Pyrophoric chemicals like tert-Butyllithium are used on a daily basis in many laboratories. These reagents are very sensitive towards air and moisture, and serious accidents have occured when handling the reagents inappropriately. CADIAC scientist has developed an important improvement in the protocol, which makes it safer for also undergraduates to use the chemicals.

2018.06.25 | Pernille Pia Krintel

[Translate to English:] tert-Butyllithium is pyrophoric and using it may be dangerous. AU scientists develop improved and safer protocol. (Photo: Org. Proc. Res. Des, DOI: 10.1021/acs.oprd.8b00151)

It is often necessary to apply air- and moisture-sensitive chemicals in research laboratories and this work can be quite difficult and even dangerous. CADIAC (Carbon Dioxide Activation Centre) member, Assoc. Prof. Anders Lindhardt from the Department of Engineering and the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) has recently published a clever method for the transfer of pyrophoric reagents in a safe manner, which has now been covered in Chemical & Engineering News.

In the paper, the authors provide a convenient and safe solution to the transfer of air- and moisture sensitive reagents, such as tert-butyl lithium, from a sure-seal Sigma-Aldrich flask to a specific reactor applying cannula techniques.

Previously, such transfers have been associated with high risk, as tert-butyllithium ignites spontaneously in the presence of air. The method is so simple now that the team can use such reagents for undergraduate laboratory courses. A film demonstrating the technique has also been provided and can be seen in the link

Other chemists at Aarhus University included in this work are PhD student Martin Bundgaard Johansen and former member of the Department of Chemistry, Assoc. Prof. Mogens Hinge, now at the Department of Engineering. In addition, Jens C. Kondrup, glassblower at Department of Chemistry, was involved in the design and construction of the equipment, and is also a co-author of the work above.

The work was funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark, The Carlsberg Foundation and the Danish National Research Foundation (CADIAC).   


The work has been carried out by researchers from Carbon Dioxide Activation Center (CADIAC) at Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre (iNANO), Department of Engineering and Department of Chemistry at Aarhus University. Anders Thyboe Lindhardt, assoc. prof. at Department of Engineering and CADIAC member, has been in charge of the team behind the study just published in the journal Organic Process Research & Development.

Improved Safety during Transfer of Pyrophoric tert-Butyllithium from Flasks with Protective Seals. Martin B. Johansen, Jens C. Kondrup, Mogens Hinge*, and Anders T. Lindhardt*. doi:10.1021/acs.oprd.8b00151

The abovementioned paper is covered in Chemical & Engineering News by Bethany Halford: https://cen.acs.org/safety/lab-safety/Setup-make-transferring-tert-butyl/96/web/2018/06

Department of Chemistry, Staff, Public / media