I have just heard that in the USA a sodium fire has caused some injury to a worker at a nuclear site. The important thing to understand about sodium fires is that they can not be extinguished with either water or carbon dioxide. The great problem with these metal fires is that they tend to emit very little smoke but the temperature of the chemical reaction tends to be very high.
Also the reactivity of the metal often allows it to burn in gases other than oxygen, for example magnesium can continue to burn in carbon dioxide. The reaction is
2Mg + CO2 –> C + 2MgO
Filed under: Chemistry |