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Nitration Incident from solvent loss

Esterification of a nitrobenzyl alcohol with tartaric acid, the process involved heating the mixture in refluxing toluene to azeotropically remove the water.  A slow loss of solvent later led to an explosion.

Once again, this shows the dangers of relying on a refluxing solvent for absolute temperature control.  It is always desirable to have an automatic means of heating cut-out, in the event of solvent loss.

Investigation showed an instability above 180°C, which is typical for most nitro compounds.

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