A hydrogen reformer furnace at a refinery was shutdown for maintenance to remove and cap the inlet and outlet headers of some radiant tubes that had previously developed hot spots and been isolated by externally pinching them off at the inlet. A decision was made to leave steam in the steam-generating circuit during this maintenance operation to prevent freezing. After maintenance was complete, the startup procedure required the furnace to be first heated up to 350°C (662°F) prior to introducing 4136 kPa (600 psig) steam into the radiant tubes.
An operation to increase the pressure within a hydrogen tube-trailer to 6000 psig was in progress when a burst disk failed at approximately 5200 psig and hydrogen was released. A vent line attached to the burst disk was not sufficiently anchored and bent outward violently from the thrust of the release over an approximate 4-inch moment arm, causing considerable damage to the adjacent vent system components. The operation is conducted with personnel present, but fortunately no one was in proximity when the burst disk failed.
As part of preparing for material disposal, a small fire occurred within a fume hood as a researcher was combining several spent ammonia borane (AB) samples that had previously been stored uncovered in the back of the hood for 6+ months. These AB samples consisted primarily of two 40-gram products of a 50wt% AB in silicone oil that had been thermally dehydrogenated. A small amount of unreacted AB slurry is believed to also have been present.