Spill prevention: engineering decreased risk of uncontained chemical spills

Safe solvent management and storage are significant concerns in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly when purification systems are run unattended and are supplied by large volumes of organic solvent to mitigate risks of possible spills involving flammable or other hazardous liquids utilised by unattended automated analysis instruments. A Liquid Overflow Prevention System (L.O.P.S.) safety device was designed and deployed on several instruments at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals in Princeton, NJ. The L.O.P.S. probe is a PTFE-encased detector that measures the refractive index of an applied matrix. The signal is preset to match normal environmental conditions (i.e., no liquid present), and any change in that condition elicits a change in signal received by the amplifier. Once the signal reaches a user-defined threshold, the unit will cut power to the instrument pump, halting the flow of liquid. Since its installation, the system has prevented an incident that could have resulted in a chemical spill.

Authors: Caruso, Vincent W.; Brown, Edward C.; Kay, John P.; Mancini, Michael A.; Westra, James A.; Keyes, Philip E. ;Full Source: American Laboratory(Shelton, CT, United States) 2011, 43(7), 30-33 (Eng) ;