I'll take "things that burn asbestos" for $100

The sadly neglected "Things I Won't Work With" category of Derek Lowe's organic chemistry blog (previously) now has another entry, as a result of an innocent inquiry regarding what chemicals will, if you dump sand on them to try to stop them burning, start cheerfully burning the sand.

It turns out that chlorine trifluoride (merely discovering that one Cl and three Fs can in fact be squished together should send shivers up the spine of anyone who was paying any attention at all in high school chemistry) is a party looking for a place to happen.

11 Responses to “I'll take "things that burn asbestos" for $100”

  1. ex-parrot Says:

    Fls? Don't you mean Fs? ;)

  2. rho Says:

    I'm going to stop reading your blog, you uncover horrible things. Horrible.

    On the other hand, now I have an idea of what to do to spammers.

  3. Jason Miller Says:

    I work for a major US semi-conductor company and sure enough, we have this in our inventory. The MSDS reads like a joke :) So much for Phosgene being on the top of my list of nastiest chemicals withing 100 yards of my desk :/

  4. Darrell Says:

    Wow. That wikipedia article is frightening. Truly nasty stuff.

  5. Bruce Says:

    SO Dan, when you accept that it is your destiny to be an Evil Genius, is this how you will dispose of the bodies ? Sounds much more likely to destroy any DNA than

  6. reyalp Says:

    Anything hypergolic with sand and concrete gets a thumbs up from me...

    sci.space.* had a recurring theme of the highest performance/nastiest possible rocket propellant combination, and various F compounds were always strong contenders. The highest ISP combination ever demonstrated actually scores pretty well here: Florine oxidizer, and liquid lithium and hydrogen fuel. Needless to say, despite the outstanding measured ISP of 542 (compare to the Shuttle SSME at a mere ~450) no one has ever tried to fly this combination.

  7. Alan Says:

    When it comes to secure disposal of old hard drives, this stuff would compete with thermite. Hydroflouric acid sounds like it would eat through platters quite well.

  8. unfunk Says:

    I think the question on everybody's mind is: "where can I get some?" This stuff sounds like fun!

  9. magetoo Says:

    The question right now is more like "I wonder where unfunk lives...". So we know what to look for on the news.

    (Thanks for mentioning this, Dan. This made it obvious that I need to read more chemistry blogs. Hmm, I wonder if OpenCourseWare or anyone else has anything interesting...)

  10. OCT Says:

    I've found both Cocktail Party Physics and Derek Lowe's blog to be a good read, magetoo.

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