Student in burn unit at Loyola

By M. Michelle Byrne

An NIU graduate student was listed in serious condition Wednesday after he was injured in a chemical explosion Tuesday at Faraday Hall.

Matthew Benning, 25, was in serious condition in the burn unit at Loyola University Medical Center, an employee at the medical center said. Benning received injuries to his face and hand from the blast which occurred at 12:30 p.m.

Benning was injured when a potassium-sodium alloy and THF solvent came into contact with water during the heating process of an experiment—which caused an explosion, the DeKalb Fire Department report said. An NIU chemistry department employee told the fire department that particular chemical mixture reacts violently when water is mixed with it, a fire department employee said.

Benning was working alone at the time of the blast; no one else was injured.

Chemistry department Chairman Joe Vaughn said Benning, a fourth-year graduate student, was running a reaction that has been published in chemistry literature before.

Vaughn said the damage to Room 304, where the explosion occurred, was minor. The explosion caused $60 worth of damage to lab equipment and did not cause any structural damage to the building, the fire department’s report said.

The fire department’s report stated two engines and two ambulances responded to the call of the explosion. Benning was taken to Kishwaukee Community Hospital by the fire department and later transferred to Loyola, the report stated.