Search Continues for MU Explosion Cause
Biochemistry professor Judy Wall confirmed Wednesday workers in the lab were in the process of doing a standard procedure that requires the addition of hydrogen. Wall said investigators believe the amount of hydrogen in a mixing hood reached a concentration where it ignited and exploded.
MU Biochemistry Department Chair Gerald Hazelbauer e-mailed a more technical explanation of the blast to department faculty and students Wednesday. "The explosion occurred in the course of a routine filling of an anaerobic growth chamber, for which standard procedure includes "scrubbing" the nitrogen atmosphere for residual oxygen by addition of hydrogen. Apparently the concentration of hydrogen exceeded the critical value of ~10%, resulting in spontaneous combustion in the form of a powerful explosion," said Hazelbauer's e-mail.
Inside the building, dust covered some of the floor Wednesday. Debris and lab equipment spilled out into the hallway and other classrooms. Students and faculty spent the day working on cleaning up the second floor lab rooms. The blast occurred in room 211, but the impact affected room 212 as well.
Construction workers from Huebert Builders boarded up blown out windows. On Thursday the crew plans to work on replacing dry wall and ceiling. Wall said the cost of replacing equipment and renovation has not been determined. Campus maintenance replanted grass Wednesday as well.
Wall said that everyone injured in the accident is recovering well. While there are ideas of what happened, an MU spokesperson said the school may never pinpoint exactly what caused the blast.