Recent work on thermal explosions, conducted in this in the Department, has been highlighted in the magazines Chemical Science and Chemistry World. The work, Effects of natural convection on thermal explosion in a closed vessel, by Ting Yueh-Liu, Alasdair Campbell, Silvana Cardoso and Allan Hayhurst, was published last month as a hot article in the journal Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics. The article presents a new way of ascertaining whether or not a reacting mixture will explode. In an exothermic, gas- or liquid-phase chemical reaction, fluid flow may arise as a result of large temperature gradients. The subsequent evolution of the reaction depends on the complex interaction between chemical kinetics, heat removal by thermal conduction and also fluid flow. In this paper, the role of such interactions on the transition from a slow, stable reaction to a thermal explosion are analysed. To date, the effects of heat conduction and natural convection have been analysed in a coupled form. Here, these effects have been separated for the first time; this has allowed us to understand their individual contribution to the stabilisation of the reaction and the prevention of explosions.