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Brigham Young University Student Causes Explosion While Brewing ‘Rocket Fuel’ in Dorm Kitchen

Brigham Young University Student Causes Explosion While Brewing ‘Rocket Fuel’ in Dorm Kitchen

“The blast from the experiment-gone-wrong set off fire alarms and sprinklers”

This sort of activity is probably best if it’s done in a lab under the supervision of expert chemists.

The New York Post reports:

BYU student brewing rocket fuel in dorm kitchen causes massive ‘fireball’ explosion

A Brigham Young University student was brewing homemade rocket fuel on a dormitory stove when the concoction suddenly exploded in a massive “fireball,” according to campus police.

The blast from the experiment-gone-wrong set off fire alarms and sprinklers at Heritage Halls around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, flooding parts of the building, BYU police said. Campus police and the Provo Fire Department responded.

“The flames from the explosion had engulfed the walls and ceiling around the stove and the intense heat tripped the fire sprinkler system. Firefighters quickly secured the scene and were able to put out the remnants from the fire,” police wrote in a statement.

Police said nobody was injured in the explosion, but 22 dorm residents were displaced due to the flooding. Cops said the building suffered “extensive damage.”

Photos released by the department show charred kitchen cabinets and ceiling above the stove. Responders can be seen walking through the inches-deep water in the building’s hallways.

“Please keep your experiments in the lab and supervised by trained professionals,” police said.

According to BYU’s website, residents of the dormitory share a kitchen with up to six people.

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Comments

Here is a video of what he was most likely trying to do.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUYxk-y-tU8

He’s a little old for this. I broke out my principal’s window with one of my trial rockets in the third grade. I also found out that melting the caramel candy needed to be done outside and with a face shield and gloves, because it often caught fire. The videos don’t generally show that.

Incidentally, it does not explode. It undergoes deflagration, the rapid but subsonic propagation of the flame front across the material. It burns with a big ball of flame and a whoosh, but not a bang.

Kids have been home-brewing rocket fuel since Sputnik. That was the primary impetus for the invention of “model rocketry” in 1958, in which the fuel is prepackaged and the kids can make rockets without have to screw with it.

In the mid-1980s, older kids and adults chafed at the size, weight, and power restrictions of the regulated hobby, and got back into the fuels game with a vengeance. (There were always some, but this is when the activity really ballooned.) Although this activity has now also been organized, standardized, consumerized, and regulated (FAA liaison, etc.), there are always some DIY folks eager to “go naked.”

I suspect from experience that there is zero deeper subtext to this incident.

Been there, done that, have all 10 fingers.. More exciting if you mix in some very fine AL for sparkies. The secret is very small batches to make cylinders with a thin hollow bore,and then stack these when cool into the tube of choice with the improvised nozzle from a brass plumbing fitting, so I hear. Alternate regular and sparkies for a better nightime effect.

Oh, and outside is good too.

Give this kid a full scholarship

“Please keep your experiments in the lab and supervised by trained professionals,” police said.

Useless advice. Everybody know they won’t let you do cool stuff in a lab, and the “trained professionals” are trained to prevent you from trying.

Anyway, they should count their blessings. The liquid fuels would clean the dorm out in style.