Tanks at Dawn

Tanks at Dawn | Ephrata, WA | December 2019

These tanks hold ag chemicals, not rocket fuel. But this scene got me thinking about the power of molecules. “It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that’s the least of its problems. It is hypergolic [tending to ignite spontaneously] with every known fuel … and such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water — with which it reacts explosively. If its [protective] coat is melted or scrubbed off … the operator is confronted with the problem of a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes.”

— From “Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants” by chemist and sci-fi author John Drury Clark (d. 1988)