Thermal instability and runaway criteria: The dangers of disregarding dynamics

Rowena Ball*, Brian F. Gray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Two exemplary exothermic processes, synthesis of nitroglycerine in a continuous stirred tank reactor (CSTR) and synthesis of the explosive RDX in a CSTR, are used to demonstrate the dangers of ignoring the system dynamics when defining criteria for thermal criticality or runaway. Stability analyses are necessary to prescribe such criteria, and for these systems prove the presence of dangerous oscillatory thermal instability which cannot be detected using the steady state thermal balances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-226
Number of pages6
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Oscillatory thermal instability
  • Stability analysis
  • Thermal runaway


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