Severity
Incident
Leak
Yes
Ignition
Yes
Ignition Source
Auto-ignition

A rupture occurred in a 24-inch gas line in a reformer. The pipe contained hydrogen and carbon monoxide at a pressure of about 400 psi and a temperature of 930 °C. The ruptured section of pipe had a high-temperature alloy steel outer wall, a refractory liner, and a stainless steel inner liner. The refractory lining had been repaired several times before (including three months prior to the incident) because of localized deterioration and hot spots. The repair procedure consisted of cutting a section of pipe, re-pouring the refractory liner, and patch-welding the outer wall.

The first rupture occurred when the 42-inch-long welded section of the pipe suddenly blew out. On-site employees heard a rumble and observed a flame above the ruptured pipe. Before the torch fire at the rupture site could be extinguished, it eroded the refractory lining in the secondary reformer and most of the remaining pipe. Instrumentation in the secondary reformer was damaged as was piping and vessel insulation in the vicinity of the rupture. The expansion loop between the primary and secondary reformers dropped about 1 inch and cracks were found in two ells on the loop.

After three weeks of repairs, the plant was brought up to production temperature and pressure again. Employees taking readings after startup noticed a flame coming from the same gas line that had just been repaired. When the reformers were shut down, the flame was extinguished, and a 10-inch crack was discovered in the inside radius of an ell in the expansion loop. The ell had apparently cracked on startup and allowed the gas to escape and auto-ignite. The fracture was apparently caused by excess stress on the ell as a result of the 1-inch displacement of the expansion loop during the first incident.

Incident Date
Dec 31, 1969
Equipment
  • Piping/Fittings/Valves
  • Piping
Damage and Injuries
When Incident Discovered
Lessons Learned

An important lesson to be derived from this incident is the need to carefully engineer and test all repairs and modifications to high-pressure process equipment.

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