Course Catalog

Safety & Selectivity in the Scale-Up of Chemical Reactions

The safety of chemical processes is critical for the whole chemical industry.  It is vital that process development chemists and engineers are able to identify aspects of the chemistry that may be hazardous or pose a risk to the safety of the process or equipment.  In order to do this they need to know when to proactively engage colleagues or contractors to carry out process safety testing and hazard analysis, which in turn requires a knowledge of the equipment and test methods available.  As chemical reactions are scaled up and operations become more economic the ability to remove heat from exothermic events becomes reduced and at the same time the outcome of any incident becomes much more severe.  This is an almost unique course on the safety of chemical reactions and processes that is designed by chemists for chemists (and engineers) with the ultimate aim of helping the chemical industry reduce the number of chemical or process related incidents.

Course Details


The aim of the course is to give lab chemists an understanding of the issues that need to be considered during the early stages of scale up to large laboratory scale equipment (10-20 litre vessels) / kilo lab.  The course will concentrate on chemical safety and selectivity issues and include information on what safety testing equipment is available and the uses and limitations of this equipment.  Attendees will learn how to identify potential problems whether they be thermal hazards or selectivity issues.  Methods used by other companies for handling hazardous reagents and reactions will be described as well as alternative chemistry to circumvent these reactions and/or reagents.

Who Should Attend

Any laboratory chemist involved in the scale-up to large scale equipment/kilo lab


  • Attendees will learn how to identify potentially unsafe chemical processes, particularly those that pose more a danger on scale
  • They will learn about what testing procedures are available to help them identify unsafe operating conditions to enable to talk knowledgably to in-house safety professionals or contract organizations
  • Sources of safety information in the literature and via the internet will be provided
  • The course provides lists of reagents and functional groups that should trigger safety testing studies
  • Methods used in other companies for handling hazardous reagents and reactions will be provided
  • Alternatives reagents or substitutes for hazardous materials will also be discussed
  • Recommendations will be provided for making the first sample of a product where there may be safety or stability concerns


  1. Introduction
    1. The safety literature
    2. Functional groups which can cause problems on scale up
  2. Improving safety and selectivity in chemical reactions
    1. Inherent safety, choosing the right synthetic route
    2. Reaction criticality classes (Stoessel diagrams)
    3. Solvent selection
    4. Choosing the right reagent
    5. Catalysis – the plusses and minuses
    6. Choosing the right reaction conditions, the effect of concentration
  3. Thermal Hazard Testing and Runaway Reactions
    1. Introduction and overview of safety issues in the chemical industry
    2. Heat loss considerations
    3. Desk screening – unstable groups, Oxygen balance equation etc
    4. Principles of hazard testing – equipment and uses
    5. Effect of changes to reaction variables
  4. Solvent Selection and Solvent Effects
    1. Reasons for choosing a solvent
    2. The effect of solvents on chemical reactions
    3. Useful solvent parameters
    4. Phase transfer catalysis
    5. Water as a solvent
    6. Solvent free reactions
    7. Alternative solvents – supercritical fluids, ionic liquids, fluorous solvents
  5. Oxidation and reduction
    1. Choice of reagent(s)
    2. Stoichiometric versus catalytic
    3. Reagent stability
    4. Safety issues
  6. Hazardous Reactions and Reagents
    1. Azides
    2. Making triazoles and tetrazoles
    3. Diazo compounds, including diazomethane
    4. Petasis methylenation
    5. Grignard Reagents and Organolithiums
    6. Use of cyanide
  7. Work Up
    1. Quenching reactions / reagents
    2. Minimising work up – Telescoping
    3. Catalyst removal
    4. Product isolation
  8. Scaling up chemical reactions
    1. What can go wrong – it’s not what you do but the way that you do it
    2. Heat transfer areas
    3. Importance of dose control and in process analysis
    4. Reactions with initiation periods
    5. Simple do’s and don’t’s
    6. Flammability issues
  9. Case studies
    1. Grignard reaction
    2. Azide chemistry
    3. Oxidation and reduction

Course Locations



Check-in opens at 7:30 a.m. on the first day of the course.

Course runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.

Register Online Register Via Mail


  Member Non-Member
Advanced $1,495 (ends July 15, 2014) $1,695 (ends July 15, 2014)
Standard $1,895 $2,095

The course fee includes a course binder and a continental breakfast each day.

Five for Four! Register five people for one course, one person for five courses, or any combination in between and your fifth registration is free. Note: This discount is only available if you register by fax, mail or phone and mention this discount and may not be combined with any other offer.

About the Instructor

  • Will Watson

    He is active in the consultancy side of the business and sits on the Scientific Advisory Boards of various companies.