A distillate dewaxing unit at an oil refinery was undergoing hot hydrogen regeneration of the catalyst when an explosion occurred. Catalyst regeneration is a periodically performed procedure, in which the normal liquid hydrocarbon feed is stopped and a hydrogen-rich gas mixture is fed through the catalyst bed for which the normal operating temperature is raised from 700F to 800F. During the catalyst regeneration process the reactor pressure is increased from normal operating levels just below 600 psig to about 640 psig. A pipe failure occurred as a sudden and complete rupture of the 10-inch diameter line at the exit of one of the two reactors. Security video revealed that the release rapidly exapnded and the hot gas mixture ignited shortly after rupture. A shock wave from the resulting view more

A petroleum refinery experienced a catastrophic rupture at one bank of three heat exchangers in a catalytic reformer/naphtha hydrotreater unit because of high temperature hydrogen attack (HTHA). Hydrogen and naphtha at more than 500F were released from the ruptured heat exchanger and ignited, causing an explosion and an intense fire burned for more than three hours.

The rupture fatally injured seven employees working in the immediate vicinity of heat exchanger at the time of the incident. The workers were in the final stages of a start-up activity to put a parallel bank of three heat exchangers back in service following cleaning. Such start-up activities had resulted in frequent leaks and occasional fires in the past and should have been considered as hazardous and nonroutine. view more

A significant hydrogen leak occurred during refueling of the onboard hydrogen storage tank of a fuel cell-powered lift truck while it was completely depowered. The in-tank shutoff solenoid valve had recently been replaced, and this was the initial refueling event after the replacement. The fuel zone access panel was removed to allow constant visual leak checking with Snoop leak-detection fluid. The event occurred during the final pressure testing of the repaired system when an O-ring failed at approximately 4500 psi, releasing the entire contents of the hydrogen tank in about 10 minutes. The dispenser hose/nozzle was immediately disconnected, and the leak location was quickly isolated to the tank/valve interface. A 30-foot boundary around the lift truck was cleared of personnel and view more

Spent platinum catalyst is recovered from corrugated stainless steel by chemical stripping and recovery. The process is completed by placing the material in lined tanks filled with hydrochloric acid (HCl). Approximately 500 pounds of corrugated stainless steel with platinum coating was inserted into a HCl leaching bath. Prior to starting the process, the supervisor tested the material for reactivity for a period of one hour, and the material showed very little reactivity. Operators began setting up three 500-gallon tanks, each containing the corrugated material. The material was covered with water and 4-5 inches of HCl was then added to the tank. When all three tanks were set up and there was only minimal reactivity observed (occasional bubbles), the operators left the area.

An view more

During maintenance on a breakaway fitting, a review of the pressure rating of the adapter fitting connecting the pipe to the breakaway found the adapter to be under rated for the design pressure. While the male straight-thread side of the "standard" fitting was rated to 7700 psig, the female compression-tube end of the same fitting was rated to only 4900 psig. The adapter was replaced with a fitting of increased wall thickness meeting the design pressure rating.

Hydrogen was released near the ground when the vent line from a 13,000-gallon liquid hydrogen storage vessel suffered damage from unusually high winds. The toppled vent line did not shear or tear, but sustained a kink that restricted hydrogen flow and created a back pressure on the vessel relief system.

Repair efforts were hampered by the potential for cold hydrogen gas, a flammability hazard, in the work area. Shut off or redirection of the hydrogen was not possible, and variable breezes made set up of safe zones uncertain. A protocol had not been prepared for this scenario.


Near the end of the process of filling a gaseous hydrogen tube trailer at a liquid hydrogen transfilling station, a safety pressure-relief device (PRD) rupture disc on one of the tube trailer’s ten tubes burst and vented hydrogen gas. The PRD vent tube directed gas to the top of the trailer where the hydrogen vented and ignited, blowing a flame straight up in the air. The operator filling the tube trailer heard a loud explosion from the sudden release of hydrogen gas and saw flames immediately. The operator closed the main fill valve on the tube trailer, stopping the hydrogen fill; however, the ten cylinders on the tube trailer were almost full (2500 psig/173 bar). The tube trailer involved in this incident was one of two tube trailers being filled simultaneously and was second in a view more

During normal operations, a two-inch flame was discovered emanating from a pinhole leak in a hydrogen line at an aircraft parts manufacturing facility. Hydrogen was not in use by any process in the facility at the time. The flame was discovered by a contractor who was about to start welding on scaffolding about 3-5 feet away. Before starting, the welder searched the immediate area for any signs of fire per his training. When he spotted the flame, he called his supervisor.

An operator tried to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher, which resulted in the flame enlarging by one inch. All employees and contractors were instructed to leave the area, and the EHS team leader called 911 and informed the fire department that there was a hydrogen fire at the facility. She then put an view more

A hose clamp failed on a low-pressure vent line from a hydrogen reactor experiment and effluent was leaked into the laboratory. Unburnt hydrogen in the effluent stream triggered the low-level hydrogen alarm. The hose clamp was resecured and other hose clamps were checked for proper tightness.

The contractor was replacing a needle valve and a check valve on the nitrogen purge line to the dispenser because of a small leak at the connection between the needle valve and the check valve. On reinstalling the valves, the contractor installed the check valve backwards, causing the pressure disk in the regulator to fail, venting about 1000 psig hydrogen into the air for about 10 seconds. This was found during testing of the contractor's work before the system was returned to normal service.