Polymers come in both naturally occurring or synthetic (man made) forms, and simply put are a macromolecule (large molecule) made by joining many repeating monomor subunits together in a process known as polymerisation.
Polymers play an essential role in our modern everyday life, taking most obviously the form of familiar everyday items made in some form of plastic. Most commonly these are polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, synthetic rubber, phenol formaldehyde resin (or Bakelite), neoprene, nylon, polyacrylonitrile, PVB and silicone.
AMA scientists are experienced in assessing polymers and are frequently called upon to provide assessment and guidance for handling polymer cargoes in road haulage, ISO sea transport tanks and in bulk chemical tankers where issues have occurred – or simply to avoid them happening in the first place.
Typical ways in which AMA provides input, may include:
- advice on inerting or stabilising for transport
- legal compliance and on-site safety
- appropriate fire fighting measures
- handling issues and toxicity from spillage or release
- addition of inhibitors to prevent chemical reactions
- mitigation from contamination or reaction
- determining causation post chemical incident
Case Study: Polymerising Bulk Chemicals
During transfer operations of styrene monomer in bulk, there was a violent overpressure event leading to rapid expulsion of molten styrene around the facility and serious blast and burn injuries to a group of operators standing nearby.
Our client had been contracted to transport the styrene monomer at the time of the incident, and it was their transport tank that had ruptured. The costs for this incident were immediately in the £10’s of millions of pounds in physical / structural damages, loss of the styrene monomer and heat damages to monomers and other polymer chemicals stored in adjacent tanks.
AMA chemists, fire and cargo transportation experts attended on site to investigate the causation and provide mitigation strategies for the other affected materials. Our involvement was able to identify the causation of the incident and identify avoidance strategies for the future, quantify and mitigate the chemical losses and assist in identifying and assessing approved disposal and clean-up facilities.
Out experts were able to liaise with the local government and legal authorities to reduce client exposure and avoid prosecution, and to ensure swift approval for clean up and disposal strategies in an otherwise tense atmosphere from heightened scrutiny.
AMA Provided: –
- Chemical scientists (general chemical experts)
- Marine officers (operational experts)