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.
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.
Forty-six hydrogen cylinders were accidentally charged with air instead of additional hydrogen during recharging operations at a synthetic liquid fuels laboratory. Cylinders were manifolded in batches of 10 or 12 to the utility compressor outside the laboratory. In normal operations, partly used cylinders containing hydrogen at a pressure of 800-900 psi were recharged to a pressure of 2000-2100 psi.
In early afternoon, a northbound tractor-semitrailer with horizontally mounted tubes filled with compressed hydrogen at approximately 2400 psi (166 bar) was struck by a northbound pickup truck that veered into the semitrailer's right rear axle. According to witnesses, the tractor-semitrailer then went out of control and left the roadway, coming to rest approximately 300 feet (91 meters) from the point of impact. As a result of rotational torque and impact, the end of one tube was sheared off at the bulkhead and left the tube bundle.
A hydrogen explosion and fire occurred in the benzene unit of a styrene plant in a large petrochemical complex. The unit was being restarted following a scheduled maintenance shutdown. The explosion followed the release of about 30 kilograms of 700-psig hydrogen gas from a burst flange into a compressor shed. Two men were killed and two others were injured. If it had not been a holiday, the death toll and injuries would probably have been much worse.
An explosion occurred in a 90-ton-per-day incinerator at a municipal refuse incineration facility. Three workers were seriously burned by high-temperature gas that spouted from the inspection door, and one of them died 10 days later. The accident happened during inspection and repair of the furnace ash chute damper. The workers injected water to remove some blockage, and the water reacted with incinerated aluminum ash to form hydrogen, which caused the explosion.
The incident occurred in the catalytic hydrotreatment plant of an oil refinery. The plant, which began operations in September 1997, has a capacity of 1650 tons/day of light fuel oil and 1450 tons/day of heavy fuel oil. The plant was designed to desulfurize the light and heavy fuel oil fractions produced in the refinery by treating them with high-pressure hydrogen over a catalyst to remove sulfur (producing hydrogen sulfide as a byproduct).
Operators in a powdered metals production facility heard a hissing noise near one of the plant furnaces and determined that it was a gas leak in the trench below the furnaces. The trench carried hydrogen, nitrogen, and cooling water runoff pipes as well as a vent pipe for the furnaces.
A trained operator was blending water, sand, anhydrite, lime, cement, pulverized fly ash, and powdered aluminum in a mixing chamber to produce material for making concrete building blocks. In the blending process, sand and water are mixed to form a slurry, and then the powders are dispensed automatically into the mix by a computer-controlled system. Finally, a slurry of glycol-coated aluminum powder is added in the last few seconds before the mix is discharged into a car, and then molds are filled from the car.