Ethylene Oxide

CAS RN: 75-21-8


Precautions designed to prevent explosive polymerization of ethylene oxide are discussed, including rigid exclusion of acids, covalent halides such as aluminium, iron (III), and tin (IV) chloride, basic materials like alkali hydroxides, ammonia, amines, metallic potassium, and catalytically active solids such as aluminium or iron oxides or rust.
Polymerization is catalyzed by a number of materials, such as acids, alkalis, some carbonates, oxides of iron and aluminum, and chlorides of iron, tin, aluminum, and boron. No acetylide-forming metals such as copper or copper alloys should be in contact with ethylene oxide.
Accidental contamination of an ethylene oxide feed tank by ammonia caused violently explosive polymerization.
It is relatively stable in aqueous solutions or when diluted with carbon dioxide or halocarbons, but it may undergo slow polymerization during storage.
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