A sealed, unclassified electrical control enclosure, part of a listed and certified force-ventilated commercial hydrogen processing unit enclosure, exploded when the equipment manufacturer’s technician pressed the machine stop switch to complete factory commissioning procedure. The technician was forcefully hit by the flying metal panel holding the switch and sustained serious injuries requiring lengthy hospitalization and rehabilitation. Two were hospitalized. Two others were injured. Significant damage to the indoor facility also occurred.
During preparation of a new hydrogen storage material, ammonia borane (AB) loaded onto mesoporous carbon, an unexpected incident was observed. As with all procedures with new materials the work is conducted on a small scale and in a laboratory fume hood. They followed the procedures that they had used for absorption of ammonia borane onto mesoporous silica without incident.
A hydrogen cylinder was initially located in an adjacent laboratory, with tubing going through the wall into the laboratory in use. When the cylinder was moved to the laboratory in use, a required leak check was not performed. Unfortunately, a leak had developed that was sufficient to cause an accumulation of hydrogen to a level above the Lower Flammability Limit. The hydrogen ignited when a computer power plug was pulled from an outlet. The exact configuration of the leak location and the outlet plug is unknown.
A 2000-psia-rated gas cylinder (nominal size 10"x1 1/2") was being filled with hydrogen to a target pressure of 1500 psia. The cylinder suffered a failure at an indicated pressure of 1500 psia during filling. Investigation of the failure subsequently revealed that a faulty digital readout had allowed the cylinder to be over-pressurized. There were no safety consequences due to the failure and no damage to the facility or equipment. The cylinder was being filled in a test vault that was specially designed for the high-pressure burst testing of pressure vessels and components.
An incident involved an explosion of an oven that was heating decaborane for vaporization. In this incident, the heater controller was defective so the heating element was disconnected from the controller and plugged directly into a wall outlet. This situation allowed the oven to reach temperatures in excess of 400 °C within 20 minutes. While the temperature increased, the decaborane continued to expand, causing a significant pressure build-up within the oven. The pressure increase eventually caused the oven's viewing window to burst.
While research staff were working in a lab, a staff member opened the primary valve to a 0.2" (1500 psi) hydrogen gas line connected to a manifold supplying instruments in the lab. Upon opening the valve, the hydrogen gas line failed at a fitting on the switching manifold, releasing a small amount of hydrogen gas. The staff member closed the valve immediately, then inspected the gas line and found the front ferrule (of the compression-style fitting) to be missing. There were no injuries or damage to equipment.
Explosion of Materials Adhering to the Inner Surface of a Removed Top of a High-Temperature Vacuum Furnace
The interior of a small high-temperature furnace, approximately 24 inches high by 18 inches wide, became contaminated with an unknown material later identified as magnesium. The furnace was disassembled to clean the unknown material from the interior surfaces, and while attempting to clean the bottom of the furnace, the technician tapped the upper lip of the furnace with a spatula and the magnesium flashed. The technician was stepping back from the furnace when the magnesium flashed. He received minor eye irritation and his eyebrows were singed.
A rupture occurred in a 24-inch gas line in a reformer. The pipe contained hydrogen and carbon monoxide at a pressure of about 400 psi and a temperature of 930 °C. The ruptured section of pipe had a high-temperature alloy steel outer wall, a refractory liner, and a stainless steel inner liner. The refractory lining had been repaired several times before (including three months prior to the incident) because of localized deterioration and hot spots. The repair procedure consisted of cutting a section of pipe, re-pouring the refractory liner, and patch-welding the outer wall.
Difficulties were experienced with two solenoid-operated globe valves in a charging system. When shut, the valves could not be reopened without securing all charging pumps. During a refueling outage, the two valves were disassembled and examined to determine the cause of the malfunction. It was found that disc guide assembly springs in both valves had undergone complete catastrophic failure. The springs, which initially had 25 coils, were found in sections of only 1-2 coils.
A hydrogen explosion occurred in an Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS) battery room. The explosion blew a 400 ft2 hole in the roof, collapsed numerous walls and ceilings throughout the building, and significantly damaged a large portion of the 50,000 ft2 building. Fortunately, the computer/data center was vacant at the time and there were no injuries.