Calorimetric studies on the thermal stability of methyl ethyl ketone peroxide (MEKP) formulations

Stephen R. Graham, Robert Hodgson, Luc Vechot, M. Iqbal Essa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


The energetic decomposition of methyl ethyl ketone peroxide (MEKP) and its formulations have long been known to present a significant risk. Indeed, MEKP has the highest number of reported decomposition incidents of all organic peroxides, many of which have led to significant numbers of fatalities, injuries and damage. It is noteworthy that incidents have been reported at all stages of the product lifecycle. This paper is derived from incident-investigation work and provides a summary of serious incidents involving MEKP, followed by details of calorimetric experiments performed to investigate thermal stability of representative MEKP formulations containing varying amounts of MEKP monomer. In particular we report the wide degree of variation that exists between commercial MEKP formulations, even between materials that are of the same nominal formulation. Such variations are detectable using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). Follow-up studies performed on a representative MEKP formulation containing MEKP monomer indicate that a risk of decomposition exists at temperatures well below the reported self-accelerating decomposition temperature (SADT) of the products. As such, the experimental results reported here suggest that lower storage temperatures (commonly recommended by manufacturers to maximise shelf life) should be considered as being essential throughout the product lifecycle to reduce the risk of accidents in storage and transportation. Crown

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-433
Number of pages10
JournalProcess Safety and Environmental Protection
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes



  • Adiabatic calorimetry
  • ARC
  • Calorimetry
  • DSC
  • Methyl ethyl ketone peroxide
  • Thermal decomposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry

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