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Facing the unknown with confidence: 
working with unidentified hazardous properties of chemical reagents



1. Groupe Novasep, Site Eiffel BP 50, 82, Boulevard de la Moselle, 54340 Pompey, France
2. Novasep Leverkusen site (Dynamit Nobel GmbH Explosivstoff und Systemtechnik), Kalkstraße 218, 51377 Leverkusen, Germany


The data available on chemicals are not always complete enough for a full assessment of their properties. However, a careful study of the functionalities present in the molecule can often highlight the potential for hazardous properties and suggest the need for further investigation. General rules and common motifs that should alert the chemist are discussed. For compounds suspected of bearing hazardous properties, a typical testing process is presented; the different experiments and their interpretation are described. This approach helps to establish safe handling practices and is illustrated with two case studies.


Every industrial process benefits from experience. Natural common sense is fine-tuned by what is done well, and there is no domain where this is truer than in the treatment of hazardous chemistry.
The following points and suggestions come out of experience and common sense coupled with years of expertise in the handling of highly energetic compounds at the Novasep facility previously known as Dynamit Nobel GmbH Explosivstoff und Systemtechnik. This discussion is intended to provide the reader with general rules and good practices that need to be observed when treating hazardous chemistry, but it cannot be considered exhaustive. In case of doubt, or to obtain further advice on specific cases, the authors highly recommend contacting experienced specialists in high-energy compounds.

Some chemical reagents could have unidentified hazardous properties which might lead to dangerous situations if not treated correctly, especially when these are used on a large scale such as in the context of industrial production. This article will review some of the current knowledge on this subject, looking a ...

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