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.

During start-up operation of a high-temperature, high-pressure plant using hydrogen, hydrogen gas leaked from the flange of a heat exchanger and a fire occurred. The leakage occurred for two reasons:

Insufficient tightening torque control was carried out during hot-bolting and an unbalanced force was generated across the bolts.
A temperature rise was induced across the heat exchanger as a result of a revamping activity, during a turnaround shutdown.

Hot-bolting: In equipment and piping that operate at high temperatures, as the temperatures rise, the tightening force decreases, thus re-tightening of bolts is necessary. This work is called hot-bolting. The design conditions of the evaporator where the fire occurred were 2.4 MPaG, view more

A hydrogen leak and fire occurred due to the installation of an incorrectly sized gasket at a solvent manufacturing plant. A worn gasket was accidentally replaced with a new gasket that was smaller than the standard one, and the system could not withstand the operational pressure of the hydrogen, causing the hydrogen to leak and ignite a small fire. Furthermore, a nearby gasket was damaged by the fire, causing a larger quantity of hydrogen to leak, and the fire spread. As nitrogen was substituted for the combustible hydrogen gas in the piping at an early stage of the fire, damage was limited to the immediate area. If the hydrogen had not been quickly purged from the system, the fire damage would have been greater. It is assumed that gasket management at a turnaround view more

Incident Synopsis
During transfer of liquid H2 from a commercial tank trailer to a receiving vessel, a leak developed in a bayonet fitting at the trailer/facility connection. The leak produced liquid H2 spray which enveloped the rear of the truck where the hand-operated shutoff valve was located. Emergency trained personnel, wearing protective clothing, except for proper shoes, entered the area and shut off the flow control valve. Reentry personnel suffered frost bite of their feet when shoes became frozen to the water-wetted rear deck of the truck.

A loose hose flange connection allowed leakage of cold fluid through the lubricated bayonet seal. This allowed cold fluid to contact and shrink the 'O' ring seal (made of Buna-N rubber), thus permitting view more

Incident Synopsis
A H2 air explosion occurred near a H2 compressor, located outside. Gaseous H2 had been released from a vent stack when a relief valve was actuated. The source of ignition was not known, but considerable damage was inflicted onto the system by the ensuing fire and explosion. Following the explosion, the shut-off valves were closed and the system was vented.

Two relief valves were located in the 3,000 psig system downstream of a 5,000/3,000 regulator. The relief valves were sized to handle substantially different flows. (One was designed for another program.) The relief valve was believed to have opened when the pressure setting was being increased from 2,700 to 2,900 psig. The accuracy of the 5,000 psig gauge used to control the dome of the 5 view more

Incident Synopsis
A technician was welding a cable suspended over a stainless steel H2 instrument line. During the welding process, two holes were accidentally burned through the hydrogen tubing. The operator heard a hissing sound and closed the valve, but the hydrogen had already ignited and it burned his hand while he was feeling for a leak.

A short during welding caused the pinholes in the tubing containing the gaseous H2.

Incident SynopsisDuring shipping preparation operations, out-gassed hydrogen/oxygen from a recently discharged silver/zinc battery in a hermetically sealed drum was ignited. Ignition was caused by a spark generated by the scraping of the battery against the side of the drum. An explosion occurred, blowing the lid from the drum, charring desiccant bags within the drum, and causing other damage.CauseThe cause of the incident was inadequate handling/transporting/storage techniques. The battery was placed in the drum too soon after discharge.

A hydrogen cylinder was initially located in an adjacent laboratory, with tubing going through the wall into the laboratory in use. When the cylinder was moved to the laboratory in use, a required leak check was not performed. Unfortunately, a leak had developed that was sufficient to cause an accumulation of hydrogen to a level above the Lower Flammability Limit. The hydrogen ignited when a computer power plug was pulled from an outlet. The exact configuration of the leak location and the outlet plug is unknown.