Table of Contents
ISRN Chemical Engineering
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 193862, 9 pages
Research Article

Thermal Decomposition of Nitrated Tri-n-Butyl Phosphate in a Flow Reactor

1Department of Chemical Engineering, Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai 400019, India
2Reprocessing Group, Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam 603102, India

Received 14 October 2012; Accepted 16 November 2012

Academic Editors: J. Canosa and S. Yin

Copyright © 2012 Lalit K. Patil et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tri-n-butyl phosphate (TBP) is a universal nuclear extractant, commercially used in the PUREX process for the last 60 years. However, it is prone to nitration and thermal degradation, and as a consequence a red-oil event may be initiated under several operating conditions resulting in severe pressurization of vessel/cell if venting is inadequate. In this work, an attempt was made to understand the reaction pathway of thermal decomposition of nitrated TBP in a flow reactor at atmospheric pressure. Many reaction products were identified and quantified by instrumental methods like HPLC-RI and GC-TCD. The experimental data was analysed with a power law model and the apparent rate constants were estimated. The activation energy for thermal decomposition of nitrated TBP, assuming an Arrhenius type of temperature dependency, was estimated to be  kJ·mol−1. The effect of both varying temperature and concentration of nitric acid on conversion of TBP into degradation products and products distribution was experimentally studied. Based on the experimental observations, a reaction mechanism framework for thermal decomposition of nitrated TBP is proposed.