Serious Question Here About Robotics

Vanderbilt University is working on a prosthetic arm project that will give the arm extra strength using a canister. In this canister
hydrogen peroxide reacts with iridium nuggets releasing 450 degrees of heat/pressure. I of course think this could be adapted to general robotics as well. I wish I could give out a link to this but it was in a recent issue of Wired Magazine.
But my question is this reaction poisonous? Even though it takes place inside of the canister, & iridium itself is not toxic (though some of its compounds might be) if the steam was to get outside of the canister I am worried that it might be toxic. If there are any chemistry experts out there your response would be appreciated.
Joel
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My understanding is that iridium is simply a catalyst in the breakdown of hydrogen peroxide, and so no compounds other than water are formed.
BTW degrees is not a measure of pressure.
Deep.
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The iridium catalyzes the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into water and oxygen:
2 H2O2 2 H2O + O2
Neither water nor oxygen are poisonous. However, this is an exothermic (heat producing) reaction, and hot, concentrated oxygen can be very dangerous.
Concentrated H2O2 can also be very dangerous. Contact with a fuel source can lead to immediate combustion, even at room temperature. Even at low concentration, it can damage human tissue with prolonged exposure.
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Concentrations of H2O2 that are useful for doing work are really nasty stuff -- I don't think it's poisonous per se, but it'll pretty much dissolve flesh on contact.
We're not talking about 3% H2O2 solutions sold for cleaning here...
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Oh yes, I realized that H2O2 was corrosive & should not come into contact with skin. Thanks for the responses btw. Upon further investigation I found a very good article about this on the Vanderbilt web page. This canister process was derived from space shuttle maneuvering thrusters, & from all indications it puts out steam that is not toxic. Hot but not toxic.
Now I am searching for info about these thrusters used on the shuttle, so I will search around aerospace groups & pages. But let me just comment again that this should be a huge advance for robotics. Joel

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On Wed, 07 Nov 2007 13:38:42 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

Uses of H2O2 is old news. I think it was mixed with alcohol and used to power the turbine engine in WWII torpedos.
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Si Ballenger wrote:

It was an early component in a lot of jet fuels, including the infamous jet packs. You know, those things that sometimes blew up the pilot?!
"Toxicity" is a subjective term. While the word toxic is often used in reference to a poison, it can also refer to anything harmful to the body. As noted highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide reacts viloently to many materials, including organic materials, and several kinds of metals. At certain high concentrations its vapor can spontaneously denotate in just air. Making "freakin' dangerous" is a better term than "toxic"!
-- Gordon
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On Thu, 08 Nov 2007 10:32:09 -0800, Gordon McComb

H2O2 "Toxic" is waking up at the beach with a serious tequela hangover and noticing that some cute girls have somehow turned you into a "peroxide blond".
http://www.canosoarus.com/07RocketBelt/Rocket09.htm
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In addition to steam, it also puts out concentrated oxygen. If operated in a poorly ventilated area, the oxygen could build up to very dangerous levels. As oxygen climbs beyond its normal 20%, the flash point goes down and the combustion temperature goes up. Fires start much easier, and spread with explosive speed.

I don't understand why you think this is a good idea. There are many other substances that have much higher energy density, are far cheaper, and are safer to handle. Like gasoline.
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Bob wrote:

Nor I. The properties and applications as a propellant (and otherwise) of hydrogen peroxide is well known, some two centuries old. It's not more used in commercial products because it's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Industry is trying to make things safer, not generate more liability claims for personal injury and wrongful death suits. Researchers need to be thinking in terms of SAFETY. The best, niftyest product in the world is useless if it's inherently unsafe.
-- Gordon
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I think that what makes it look good is that it doesn't need to be ignited to get work out of it. But you're right, the idea of having something that strapped on to me would scare me... bad.
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