What is Lessons Learned?

What is H2LL?

This database is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. The safety event records have been contributed by a variety of global sources, including industrial, government and academic facilities.

H2LL is a database-driven website intended to facilitate the sharing of lessons learned and other relevant information gained from actual experiences using and working with hydrogen. The database also serves as a voluntary reporting tool for capturing records of events involving either hydrogen or hydrogen-related technologies.

The focus of the database is on characterization of hydrogen-related incidents and near-misses, and ensuing lessons learned from those events. All identifying information, including names of companies or organizations, locations, and the like, is removed to ensure confidentiality and to encourage the unconstrained future reporting of events as they occur.

The intended audience for this website is anyone who is involved in any aspect of hydrogen use. The existing safety event records are mainly focused on laboratory settings that offer valuable insights into the safe use of hydrogen in energy applications and R&D. It is hoped that users will come to this website both to learn valuable lessons from the experiences of others as well as to share information from their own experiences. Improved safety awareness benefits all.

Development of the database has been primarily supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. While every effort is made to verify the accuracy of information contained herein, no guarantee is expressed or implied with respect to the completeness, causal attribution, or suggested remedial measures for avoiding future events of a similar nature. The contents of this database are presented for informational purposes only. Design of any energy system should always be developed in close consultation with safety experts familiar with the particulars of the specific application.

We encourage you to browse through the safety event records on the website and send us your comments and suggestions. We will continue to add new records as they become available.

How does H2LL work?

If you have an incident you would like to include in the H2LL database, please click the "Submit an Incident" button at the top of the page. You will be asked for a wide range of information on your incident. Please enter as much of the information as possible. In order to protect your and your employer's identities, information that may distinguish an incident (your contact information, your company's name, the location of the incident, etc.) will not be displayed in the incident reports on H2LL.

Lessons Learned Corner

Visit the Lessons Learned Corner Archives.

Key themes from the H2Incidents database will be presented in the Lessons Learned Corner. Safety event records will be highlighted to illustrate the relevant lessons learned. Please let us know what you think and what themes you would like to see highlighted in this safety knowledge corner. You can find all the previous topics in the archives.

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.

During project clean-up, partially spent (thermally reacted) ammonia borane (AB) residue from a previous experiment was mixed with a small amount of water to rinse the residue from its container. The water reacted with the spent AB resulting initially in a large heat release followed immediately by a fire. It appears that the water addition view more

A university researcher reported that a fire resulted when he scraped lithium aluminum hydride (LiAlH4) out of the glass jar in which it was contained (see attached photo). The jar had been in the laboratory since 2005 (about 6 years), so the LiAlH4 was old. The researcher was using a dry metal spatula to scrape the LiAlH4 out of the jar. A quick review of the manufacturer's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for LiAlH4 informed the researcher of its moisture sensitivity, but there was no indication of friction causing a fire. However, the supervising faculty member reported personal knowledge that friction can cause ignition of LiAlH4.

The fire was put out with an ABC extinguisher. In the attached photo, the ABC extinguishing agent is the yellow powder.

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.

Maintenance personnel presumed that the leak was nonflammable nitrogen because there had recently been a nitrogen piping leak elsewhere in the plant. Using the plant's overhead crane, they removed some of the heavy trench covers. They determined that the leak was in an area that the crane could not reach, so they brought in a forklift with a chain to remove the trench covers in that area.

Eyewitnesses stated that as the first trench cover was wrenched from its position by the forklift view more

A metal hydride storage system was refilled using compressed hydrogen in a closed lab environment. The tank system is an in-house development and is optimized for high hydrogen storage density and use with an air-cooled fuel cell. The system is equipped with a pressure relief valve that opens gradually at 35 bar to protect the tank from overpressure conditions. The tank itself is designed to adsorb 400 g of hydrogen at a pressure less than 15 bar.

For refueling, the secondary pressure on the compressed hydrogen supply container was set to 20 bar and the adsorption of the hydride was started without hydrogen flow limitation. Due to the exothermic nature of the hydride upon recharge, as expected a sharp increase in tank temperature was measured. The tank was uncooled because the view more

An instrument engineer at a hydrogen production facility was arresting the hydrogen leakage in tapping a pressure transmitter containing 131-bar hydrogen gas. The isolation valve was closed and the fittings near the pressure transmitter were loosened. The pressure dropped from 131 bar to 51 bar. The fitting was further loosened (though very little); the instrument tube slipped out of the ferrule and got pulled out of the fitting. With the sudden release of the 51-bar hydrogen, there was a loud pop (like a fire cracker) and the spark-proof tool was observed to have black spot on it. The volume of the hydrogen gas released was small, since it was in the tapping line only.

On a given day personnel were removing a blind hub that had been used to temporarily isolate a portion of a gaseous hydrogen system. As a result of a sudden release of 2,800 psig gaseous nitrogen, sand and debris kicked up from the concrete pad and caused minor injury to two technicians.

During the investigation, it was found that:

The temporary configuration change to the gaseous hydrogen system was initiated on multiple work orders and by different individuals. There was no single document that documented the temporary system configuration.
The procedure for performing the work was written using a drawing that had not been updated to show the actual system configuration. Verbal field direction was given when it was discovered the system was not configured per view more

A battery that was left on a charger over a given weekend was used to start a gasoline power generator. This battery was connected in series with another battery and the connection on the negative post was hand tightened. When an attempt was made to start the generator, the battery exploded on approximately the fifth click of the starter solenoid. No damage was done to any equipment or facilities and no one was injured.

The most probable cause of the accident was the severe overcharging of the battery (64 hours at 20 amp/hour). This charging created hydrogen, which combined with air or oxygen and an ignition source to form the explosion. One source of ignition could have been the loosely attached connection to the battery terminal. Another possible source may have been an view more

During a facility walk-through, it was noted that a combustible gas (hydrogen) monitoring system installed in a furnace room was inoperable (the system had been unplugged). This system is used to detect and warn facility employees of an explosive or flammable environment. An explosive or flammable environment can only occur if there is a leak in the system, which would not be expected to occur during normal operations. When the system was reactivated, no leaks were indicated.

The incident had the following three causes:

A procedure describing administrative controls necessary to ensure safe operations in the area should have been developed and implemented prior to disabling the hydrogen monitoring system.
The hydrogen monitor was not hard-wired, which allowed it view more