Unauthorized field modified equipment, drain lines cause control cabinet explosion

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.

Liquid Hydrogen Delivery Truck Offloading Valve Failure

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

A plume of hydrogen gas escaped from the offloading valve of a liquid hydrogen delivery truck while transporting hydrogen to a commercial facility. The plume ignited, resulting in a flash and concussion loud enough to be heard inside the nearby building and to set off the building’s seismic event detectors. A small amount of hydrogen gas continued to escape from the trailer tank and burn until a company specialist arrived to manually shut off a critical valve almost eight hours later.

Hydrogen Cylinder Fire in Laboratory

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

An employee of an incubator company that was working in a university-owned laboratory facility was checking the hydrogen pressure through the main valve on a hydrogen cylinder. The regulator on this cylinder had not been properly closed. Hydrogen escaped through the regulator and was ignited. The fire was contained in the laboratory and extinguished by the building's fire sprinkler system before fire crews arrived. There were no injuries, and damage estimates were not available.

Over-Pressurization of Laboratory Ball Mill

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

The over-pressurization of a laboratory ball mill reactor designed for operation under slightly elevated pressures resulted in a serious injury. The apparatus had been routinely operated under argon and hydrogen pressures of 5-10 atmospheres for nearly two years. The apparatus had not been tested for operation at pressures greater than 10 atm.

Electrical Incident Near a High-Pressure Hydrogen Reactor Cell

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

A hydrogenation experiment was being performed under 60 atm hydrogen, inside a high-pressure reactor cell. The experiment was conducted inside a fume hood and left overnight. The hood caught fire during the night, resulting in fire damage to the fixture, hood, and exhaust duct, as well as water damage to much of the building. Based on the local fire department investigation, the fire started from faulty electrical wiring that was used to provide power for reactor cell heating.

Small Glass Ampoule of Aluminum Hydride (Alane) Ruptures After Transit

First Name
Andy
Last Name
Piatt

A small research sample of approximately 5 grams of aluminum hydride (alane) doped with 2-3 mol % TiCl3 contained within a glass ampoule ruptured after transit while stored in an office cabinet. The rupture was attributed to over-pressurization caused by hydrogen gas buildup within the sample over a four-month period. The glass ampoule, contained within a 0.2-inch thick cardboard shipping tube, was not a pressure-rated container. The rupture resulted in glass chards penetrating the protective cardboard shipping tube.

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Key:

  • = No Ignition
  • = Explosion
  • = Fire
Hydrogen Incident Summaries by Equipment and Primary Cause/Issue
Equipment / Cause Equipment Design or Selection Component Failure Operational Error Installation or Maintenance Inadequate Gas or Flame Detection Emergency Shutdown Response Other or Unknown
Hydrogen Gas Metal Cylinder or Regulator   3/31/2012
4/30/1995
2/6/2013
4/26/2010 12/31/1969     3/17/1999
11/1/2001
12/23/2003
Piping/Valves 4/4/2002
2/2/2008
5/11/1999
4/20/1987
11/4/1997
12/31/1969
8/19/1986
7/27/1991
12/19/2004
2/6/2008
10/3/2008
4/5/2006
5/1/2007
9/19/2007
10/31/1980
2/7/2009 1/24/1999
2/24/2006
6/8/1998
12/31/1969
2/7/2009

9/1/1992
10/31/1980

10/3/2008  
Tubing/Fittings/Hose   9/23/1999
8/2/2004
8/6/2008
9/19/2007
1/1/1982 9/30/2004
10/7/2005
  10/7/2005  
Compressor   10/5/2009
6/10/2007
8/21/2008
1/15/2019
    10/5/2009 8/21/2008  
Liquid Hydrogen Tank or Delivery Truck 4/27/1989 12/19/2004
1/19/2009
8/6/2004 12/31/1969   1/1/1974 12/17/2004
Pressure Relief Device 7/25/2013
5/4/2012
1/15/2002
1/08/2007
12/31/1969        
Instrument 1/15/2019 3/17/1999
12/31/1969
2/6/2013
    11/13/73    
Hydrogen Generation Equipment 7/27/1999     10/23/2001      
Vehicle or Lift Truck   7/21/2011         2/8/2011
12/9/2010
Fuel Dispenser   8/2/2004
5/1/2007
6/11/2007
9/19/2007
  2/24/2006
1/22/2009
     
Fuel Cell Stack            

5/3/2004
12/9/2010
2/8/2011

Hydrogen Cooled Generator       12/31/1969
2/7/2009
     
Other (floor drain, lab
anaerobic chamber,
heated glassware,
test chamber,
gaseous hydrogen
composite cylinder,
delivery truck)
  11/14/1994
7/21/2011
7/27/1999
6/28/2010
8/21/2008
12/31/1969
3/22/2018
    6/10/2019
  • = No Ignition
  • = Explosion
  • = Fire