Severity
Incident
Leak
Yes
Ignition
Yes

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. A burst of burning hydrogen was emitted from the window and burned the face of a researcher who was hospitalized for approximately three weeks.

Incident Date
Jun 19, 1996
Setting
Equipment
  • Heating Equipment
  • Oven
Probable Cause
When Incident Discovered
Lessons Learned

After this accident, a safety inspection team was organized. An investigation of this incident and an inspection of all other experimental equipment was conducted by the team. As a result of this inspection, the heaters are now hard-wired to the temperature controllers. Follow-ups on the remainder of the team's findings for all other experimental equipment have not yet been completed.