Laser-Ignited Acetone Fire in a Laboratory

Category: Lessons Learned

Summary

A Laser Ablation Synthesis experiment was taking place in acetone solution with Aluminum metal as target in the solution.  A focusing plano-convex lens was used. The lens was adjusted to the height of the beaker such that a laser flux (beam spot size) was on the target. For adjusting the laser position in xy plane, a single laser shot was initiated by the researcher at full-power for the experiment. The investigation proposes the laser path was likely above the acetone level in the beaker causing ignition of the acetone vapors.

The researcher ran past the lab extinguisher to retrieve an extinguisher in the hallway and put out the fire. The incident was reported to EHS eight days later.

Although no damage was incurred, the incident resulted in a discharged extinguisher and significant cleanup required for the laser table and lab area.

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