Reply to post: Re: why is anybody surprised?

SpaceX reveals chain of events that caused the unplanned disassembly of Crew Dragon capsule


Re: why is anybody surprised?

> At the very least, we can be thankful they weren't using a florine based oxidizer. Florine fires are really something to see. From a safe distance. In proper safety gear. Only once in your life. Because watching wood, steel, sand, concrete, and even a stream of halon gas burn really makes you re-evaluate the definition of "safe."

I was once, very long ago and very far away, trying to assay the concentration of fluorine in an experiment where I was pretty sure that the fluorine was reducing in concentration due to its reaction with the stainless-steel containment vessel. In seeking to replicate the usual test for iodine, I decided to release the gas into a vessel containing methanol and, IIRC, sodium iodide, later to be titrated with a starch solution (OK, this was 30+ years ago, some details have evaporated over time). Let's leave aside the fact that my first attempt to de-oxygenate the methanol by boiling in an Erlenmeyer flask resulted in a fire because I'd forgotten about boiling chips and a rapidly boiling solution shot up into the air like Vesuvius erupting and landed back down on the hot-plate -- it was a Sunday and no-one else was around...

Anyway, as I cracked open the valve that led to a small teflon tube immersed in the methanol solution, I noticed what seemed to be a spark at the end of the tube. I cautiously proceeded with the same result. Shut down, turn off...

I then found a book on the halogens in the University library which noted "there have been no reports of the interaction of fluorine with methanol which haven't resulted in explosions"!

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