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.

While research staff were working in a lab, a staff member opened the primary valve to a 0.2" (1500 psi) hydrogen gas line connected to a manifold supplying instruments in the lab. Upon opening the valve, the hydrogen gas line failed at a fitting on the switching manifold, releasing a small amount of hydrogen gas. The staff member closed the valve immediately, then inspected the gas line and found the front ferrule (of the compression-style fitting) to be missing. There were no injuries or damage to equipment.

In the follow-on discussion with research staff, it was learned that approximately one month earlier, a similar condition (front ferrule missing from a fitting) was found while performing a modification to a similar manifold. Following a critique, management expressed view more

An incident involved an explosion of an oven that was heating decaborane for vaporization. In this incident, the heater controller was defective so the heating element was disconnected from the controller and plugged directly into a wall outlet. This situation allowed the oven to reach temperatures in excess of 400 °C within 20 minutes. While the temperature increased, the decaborane continued to expand, causing a significant pressure build-up within the oven. The pressure increase eventually caused the oven's viewing window to burst. A burst of burning hydrogen was emitted from the window and burned the face of a researcher who was hospitalized for approximately three weeks.

A facility experienced a major fire in its Resid Hydrotreater Unit (RHU) that caused millions of dollars in property damage. One employee sustained a minor injury during the emergency unit shutdown and there were no fatalities.

The RHU incident investigation determined that an 8-inch diameter carbon steel elbow inadvertently installed in a high-pressure, high-temperature hydrogen line ruptured after operating for only 3 months. The escaping hydrogen gas from the ruptured elbow quickly ignited.

This incident occurred after a maintenance contractor accidentally replaced an alloy steel elbow with a carbon steel elbow during a scheduled heat exchanger overhaul. The alloy steel elbow was resistant to high-temperature hydrogen attack (HTHA), but the carbon steel elbow was not. view more

An explosion occurred in an electrolysis system in a commercial facility. Electrolysis of a potassium hydroxide solution is used to produce hydrogen for a hydrogenation processes. The circular electrolysis cells are 1.5 m in diameter and 25 mm thick. Design current for the electrolyzer is 6,000 amps at 1.78 volts. Operating temperature and pressure is 70-90 °C and 435 psig. Hydrogen and oxygen product gases are separated from the electrolyte in separating drums. The system had been operating at the plant for 13 years prior to the explosion. Operating experiences had been generally favorable except for the need to periodically flush the system with water to remove sludge formations.

According to the investigative report, sludge deposits in the electrolyte passages started the view more

A hydrogen explosion occurred in an Uninterruptible Power Source (UPS) battery room. The explosion blew a 400 ft2 hole in the roof, collapsed numerous walls and ceilings throughout the building, and significantly damaged a large portion of the 50,000 ft2 building. Fortunately, the computer/data center was vacant at the time and there were no injuries.

The facility was formerly a large computer/data center with a battery room and emergency generators. The company vacated the building and moved out the computer equipment; however the battery back-up system was left behind. The ventilation for the battery room appeared to be tied into a hydrogen monitoring system. The hydrogen sensor was in alarm upon emergency responders arriving at the scene (post-explosion). 911 callers view more

Difficulties were experienced with two solenoid-operated globe valves in a charging system. When shut, the valves could not be reopened without securing all charging pumps. During a refueling outage, the two valves were disassembled and examined to determine the cause of the malfunction. It was found that disc guide assembly springs in both valves had undergone complete catastrophic failure. The springs, which initially had 25 coils, were found in sections of only 1-2 coils. Metallurgical analysis of the failed springs attributed the probable cause of failure was due to hydrogen embrittlement. The springs are made of 17-7 PH stainless steel.

Discussion with the valve manufacturer revealed that similar failures occurred on three previous occasions. These spring failures were also view more

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 view more

The interior of a small high-temperature furnace, approximately 24 inches high by 18 inches wide, became contaminated with an unknown material later identified as magnesium. The furnace was disassembled to clean the unknown material from the interior surfaces, and while attempting to clean the bottom of the furnace, the technician tapped the upper lip of the furnace with a spatula and the magnesium flashed. The technician was stepping back from the furnace when the magnesium flashed. He received minor eye irritation and his eyebrows were singed.

Later that week the same technician was attempting to clean the interior surfaces of the top of the furnace and sprayed, as directed, the interior of the top with a water-based cleaning liquid which consisted of 91% water. He stepped view more

A 2000-psia-rated gas cylinder (nominal size 10"x1 1/2") was being filled with hydrogen to a target pressure of 1500 psia. The cylinder suffered a failure at an indicated pressure of 1500 psia during filling. Investigation of the failure subsequently revealed that a faulty digital readout had allowed the cylinder to be over-pressurized. There were no safety consequences due to the failure and no damage to the facility or equipment. The cylinder was being filled in a test vault that was specially designed for the high-pressure burst testing of pressure vessels and components. While no over-pressure cylinders were released from the laboratory for use, this incident is being reported to address the potential and subsequent lessons learned.

Investigations revealed that the view more

Overview: A pipe end containing fuel oil corroded at the outlet of a heat exchanger on the outlet side of a desulfurization reactor. The corroded pipe end leaked hydrogen gas, which exploded, causing oil to leak from the heat exchanger. The leaking oil developed into an oil fire, and the damage spread. The causes of the pipe end corrosion include the following:

There was a high concentration of corrosive substances in the process injection water.
The concentration of corrosive substances increased due to re-molding the heat exchangers.
The shape of the pipe cap was dead end piping.

Incident: During normal operations at a fuel oil refinery, a pipe end in a desulfurization unit developed a hydrogen leak, which led to an explosion. The pipe end was located on view more