Lessons Learned

What is Lessons Learned?

What is H2LL?

This database is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The safety event records have been contributed by a variety of global sources, including industrial, government and academic facilities.

H2LL is a database-driven website intended to facilitate the sharing of lessons learned and other relevant information gained from actual experiences using and working with hydrogen. The database also serves as a voluntary reporting tool for capturing records of events involving either hydrogen or hydrogen-related technologies.

The focus of the database is on characterization of hydrogen-related incidents and near-misses, and ensuing lessons learned from those events. All identifying information, including names of companies or organizations, locations, and the like, is removed to ensure confidentiality and to encourage the unconstrained future reporting of events as they occur.

The intended audience for this website is anyone who is involved in any aspect of hydrogen use. The existing safety event records are mainly focused on laboratory settings that offer valuable insights into the safe use of hydrogen in energy applications and R&D. It is hoped that users will come to this website both to learn valuable lessons from the experiences of others as well as to share information from their own experiences. Improved safety awareness benefits all.

Development of the database has been primarily supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. While every effort is made to verify the accuracy of information contained herein, no guarantee is expressed or implied with respect to the completeness, causal attribution, or suggested remedial measures for avoiding future events of a similar nature. The contents of this database are presented for informational purposes only. Design of any energy system should always be developed in close consultation with safety experts familiar with the particulars of the specific application.

We encourage you to browse through the safety event records on the website and send us your comments and suggestions. We will continue to add new records as they become available.

How does H2LL work?

If you have an incident you would like to include in the H2LL database, please click the "Submit an Incident" button at the top of the page. You will be asked for a wide range of information on your incident. Please enter as much of the information as possible. In order to protect your and your employer's identities, information that may distinguish an incident (your contact information, your company's name, the location of the incident, etc.) will not be displayed in the incident reports on H2LL.

Lessons Learned Corner

Visit the Lessons Learned Corner Archives.

Key themes from the H2Incidents database will be presented in the Lessons Learned Corner. Safety event records will be highlighted to illustrate the relevant lessons learned. Please let us know what you think and what themes you would like to see highlighted in this safety knowledge corner. You can find all the previous topics in the archives.

A small electrical fire occurred (due to what is believed to be an electrical short circuit) inside a fuel cell test stand. Subsequently, a nearby hydrogen line made of flexible tubing was melted through and ignited the hydrogen, causing a small fire. The electrical fire was easily extinguished. The hydrogen flame was extinguished by snuffing the flame, shutting off the gas lines and power to the test stand. No one was injured, but damage was incurred in the test stand. Causes An electrical short circuit occurred, causing a small electrical fire. Electrical fire caused a flexible tubing hydrogen line to melt, thus exposing hydrogen to the fire.
NaAlH4 powder mixed with hexane was placed in two metal trays and dried by placement in a glove box antechamber under vacuum. After several days, the trays were moved into the glove box main chamber. As the powder in one of the trays was being transferred to a container involving scraping of a metal sieve and metal milling balls with a metal spatula, a portion of the powder in the tray spontaneously reacted rapidly, creating a pressure pulse which cracked the window at the back of the glove box. No injuries occurred, and the glove box window was resealed using tape within one to two minutes.
Incident Synopsis At an offsite liquid H2 fill station, a liquid hydrogen trailer hit a gaseous H2 purge shut off valve handle. Tubing attached to the purge valve was bent on both ends but did not leak. Cause The driver was not sufficiently careful in approaching the liquid H2 system fill point.
Incident Synopsis A H2 delivery truck accident occurred on a highway. The truck was pulling a trailer containing gaseous H2. Upon entering a sharp curve, the truck and trailer started to weave and pushed to the side of the road. The truck and trailer rolled about 40 feet downhill; the trailer rolled over 1 1/2 times and the tractor once, ending in the upright position with the driver still in his seat. The truck was completely totaled, but little damage was incurred by the trailer. The trailer shell was satisfactory with normal venting through the stack. The rear cabinet doors were warped shut. Cause The accident occurred on a bad road, which was steep with many sharp curves. The driver was going too fast for the road conditions and the type of trailer being pulled. The truck driver was...
Incident Synopsis During transfer of liquid H2 from a commercial tank trailer to a receiving vessel, a leak developed in a bayonet fitting at the trailer/facility connection. The leak produced liquid H2 spray which enveloped the rear of the truck where the hand-operated shutoff valve was located. Emergency trained personnel, wearing protective clothing, except for proper shoes, entered the area and shut off the flow control valve. Reentry personnel suffered frost bite of their feet when shoes became frozen to the water-wetted rear deck of the truck. Cause A loose hose flange connection allowed leakage of cold fluid through the lubricated bayonet seal. This allowed cold fluid to contact and shrink the 'O' ring seal (made of Buna-N rubber), thus permitting liquid hydrogen leakage to the...
Incident Synopsis While disconnecting a liquid H2 fill line from a liquid H2 trailer, liquid H2 escaped, burning a second man who was holding the hose. The man was burned on his hands and on his stomach. Cause The liquid H2 shut off valve was partially open, but both men assumed it was closed. Prescribed clothing was being worn.
Incident Synopsis While a hot air dryer was being used to free a coupling in a hydrogen cryostat (an apparatus used to maintain constant low temperatures), a flash fire occurred. The H2 cryostat was being dismantled. Causes The temperature at the center of the cryostat was sufficiently low to liquefy air. The prescribed requirements for purging and bringing the cryostat to room temperature were circumvented. The H2 - air mixture was formed and ignition was assumed to be a spark from an open filament of the dryer.
Incident Synopsis While attempting to replace a rupture disk in a liquid H2 vessel, H2 gas was released and ignited. In fighting the fire, liquid N2 was sprayed onto a second liquid H2 vessel located nearby. This resulted in cracking of the outer mild steel vacuum jacket. The loss of the vacuum caused a rapid increase in pressure and rupture of the burst disk of the second vessel. H2 boiled off and was burned in the fire. Cause The rupture disk was being replaced with a load of liquid H2 in the vessel and no separating inerting gas. The H2-air mixture was probably ignited by static discharges. Rupture of the second vessel burst disk was caused by the low-temperature exposure of the mild steel vacuum jacket.
Incident Synopsis During pressure testing of a H2 tank for investigation of quick-release manhole cover, the tank burst at a pressure between 60-67 psig. Flow regulators indicated peak pressure of 67 psig. Cause The tank was over pressurized. A mistake was made in interpreting the blueprint, believing the tank was designed to withstand 150 psig, yet the actual design limit was 50.7 psig.
Incident Synopsis A hydrogen compressor had been shut down for repairs and was being put back into service when an explosion occurred, resulting in property damage. The compressor was equipped with interchangeable intake and outlet valves. Cause The discharge valve was installed in the intake valve position, causing the cylinder head to blow off and release H2 to the atmosphere. The ignition source was not indicated.