Hydrogen Tubing Leak

Severity: 
Leak: 
Ignition: 
2005

A facility uses small crucibles to heat precious metals within a fume hood, with natural gas as the fuel source for the Bunsen burner. Hydrogen is fed into the crucible at low pressure (<20 psi) to control the atmosphere within the vessel in order to prevent oxidation. The hydrogen is routed through a manifold with flexible tubing, which is connected to a ceramic tip and fitted into the crucible through a small opening in the crucible's lid. The hydrogen is consumed in the process. The facility believes that the hydrogen tubing developed a leak which eventually ignited. The plastic interior of the fume hood ignited and started to spread. The person working in the area shut off the natural gas and hydrogen (they had valves at the hood) and used a halon extinguisher in the hood.

Setting: 
Equipment: 
  • Piping/Fittings/Valves
  • Flexible Tubing
Damage and Injuries: 
Probable Cause: 
Contributing Factors: 
Characteristics: 
When Incident Discovered: 
Lessons Learned: 
  1. Flexible tubing should be secured so it cannot get dislodged during operations.
  2. Fume hoods where hydrogen is used should not be made of combustible materials. 3. Preventative maintenance should be performed on equipment on a regular basis to ensure that is is in good working condition.
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