Fuel Safety Alert

An AMA member was recently severely burned when a model fuel can exploded as it was being opened. He received very severe burns, requiring extensive grafting, and is facing a long recovery period.

The metal can he was trying to open had been in storage for over 20 years. There is no evidence of an external spark or ignition source other than the container itself. Consultation with experts in the field indicates that materials, such as ether, propylene oxide and nitro methane, commonly used in model fuels may become destabilized and shock sensitive over a period of time. As best we can determine, this fuel, whose composition included two of these substances, was in a state of change. It is probable that this change in combination with the heat generated by the friction (metal to metal) in trying to open the container initiated the explosion.

AMA advises that it would be unwise to open fuel containing these products that have been stored for some period of time in metal containers. Such fuel should be taken to a Hazardous Waste disposal facility. (Any fuel stored for over 5 years would be suspect).


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