SummaryA fire occurred in a battery manufacturing plant that was about to cease operations for the night. The fire caused an estimated $2.4 million in property damage when an electrical source ignited combustible hydrogen vapors.BackgroundThe incident occurred in the forming room, where wet cell batteries were stored for charging on metal racks. The facility had a wet-pipe sprinkler system, but no automatic hydrogen detection equipment.Incident SynopsisAt 11:52 pm, a security guard on patrol noticed a free burning fire in the forming room and notified the fire department. It took fire fighters almost three hours to bring the fire under control.Although the facility was equipped with a wet-pipe sprinkler system, the forming room's branch had been disconnected 10 to 15 years before view more
While a hot air dryer was being used to free a coupling in a hydrogen cryostat (an apparatus used to maintain constant low temperatures), a flash fire occurred. The H2 cryostat was being dismantled.
The temperature at the center of the cryostat was sufficiently low to liquefy air. The prescribed requirements for purging and bringing the cryostat to room temperature were circumvented. The H2 - air mixture was formed and ignition was assumed to be a spark from an open filament of the dryer.
A hydrogen explosion occurred in an emergency battery container used to transfer fuel elements. The container had five emergency power batteries. Damage was incurred by the explosion.
The H2 concentration in the container increased because the battery charger had been left on charge. In addition, the container was placed in an un-ventilated airlock. Ignition of the H2-air mixture was believed to be caused by the relays and micro switches activated when the airlock door was opened.