Chemical reaction leads to small fire in basement of Building 66

A small fire occurred Thursday at 10:10 a.m. in the laboratory of chemical engineering professor Yuriy Román, located in the basement of Building 66.  

“A one-liter reactor vessel, used to extract lignin from biomass for the production of renewable chemicals, over pressurized and released its contents into the containment enclosure,” according to Martin Bazant, executive officer of Chemical Engineering, in an email to The Tech.  

The fire remained contained and subsequently triggered the lab’s water sprinklers. It was extinguished before the Cambridge Fire Department arrived. No one was injured, and the damage was limited, Bazant wrote.

Roman’s lab and MIT Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) are working together to investigate the root cause of this incident, as this chemical reaction has been performed for many years without issues.  

Members of the MIT community received messages alerting them of a “HAZMAT/FIRE incident” in Building 66, which was evacuated and partially closed temporarily.