Safety is paramount in the Shiflett laboratory and is reflected by the safety-first mindset applied to the lab design. The following features have all been included within the laboratory to maintain a safe working environment.
Custom Designed Ventilated Enclosures
Three ventilated enclosures are used in the Shiflett lab to house experimental equipment. The enclosures minimize the risk of working with high pressure / temperature experiments and potentially hazardous gases.
External Flammable Gas Storage
The Shiflett laboratory was designed with a secured flammable gas storage closet located outside of the building. Flammable gases are piped into the building through stainless steel tubing directly to the desired location. This feature eliminates the storage and handling of flammable gas cylinders inside of the building and mitigates the risk associated with using these compounds.
Custom Designed Interlock Boxes
Custom designed interlock boxes are incorporated into each ventilated enclosure within the lab. The boxes simultaneously monitor lab parameters including hazardous gas concentrations, status of the building ventilation systems, over-temperature controls on lab equipment, and a manual emergency stop button. All systems within the enclosures are controlled by the interlock box such that in the event of an emergency the experiments will automatically stop and the flow of gas to the instruments will be terminated by pneumatically controlled valves. See below for a detailed explanation of each device.
Internal Ventilated Gas Cylinder Cabinets
The laboratory is equipped with two ventilated gas cylinder cabinets in the event that a potentially hazardous gas cylinder must be used directly within the lab. These cabinets are connected to the building ventilation system to immediately remove gas from the lab should a cylinder unexpectedly leak.
Photohelic Ventilation Detection Devices
Each ventilated enclosure is equipped with a Photohelic detector. In the event that the lab loses ventilation, the Photohelic will trip terminating experiments running within that space.
Scott Safety Gas Detection System
A gas detection system is installed within the Shiflett lab to detect hazardous gases in the event of an unexpected leak. Each ventilated enclosure and fume hood is equipped with a Meridian sensor which detects the presence of combustible gases in these spaces. Additionally, three gas specific Freedom 5000 detectors are placed throughout the lab as area monitors. Currently the Freedom 5000 detectors are set up to detect low oxygen, ammonia, and hydrogen and will be configured with new sensors to detect specific gases based on future research directions.
Each piece of equipment within the ventilated enclosures contain necessary over-temperature controls. Additionally, the interlock boxes were designed with extra control units which can be integrated into new equipment placed in the enclosures to prevent hazards associated with failed primary temperature controllers and thermal runaway scenarios.
Emergency Stop Buttons
Each interlock box includes an emergency stop “crash” button. In the case of an emergency the researcher can hit the crash button to terminate gas flow to the equipment and quickly shut down the experiment.
Uninterruptible Power Supply
Equipment within each ventilated enclosure is plugged into an uninterruptible power supply battery backup system. In the event that the building loses power, the battery backup systems supply necessary power to the equipment until the building generator is online. These battery systems permit researchers to conduct experiments over long periods of time without concern of losing data or unexpected termination of the trial.
Lab Safety Training
Each researcher in the Shiflett lab completes a rigorous lab safety training provided by the University of Kansas Environmental Health and Safety department. Researchers also attend monthly lab safety meetings at the Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis which provide additional training.
Process Safety Management
A detailed process safety management plan is created for each piece of equipment within the Shiflett lab prior to conducting any experiments. The documents help identify hazards associated with starting new research projects and using new equipment. Categories assessed include: high pressure, high temperature, hazardous chemicals, electrical, mechanical, and development of start-up, standard operating, and emergency shutdown procedures. Additionally, management of change forms are used when the instruments or experiments are modified as well as for training new operators.