Incident Synopsis

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.

Cause

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.

An employee noticed an unusual smell in a fuel cell laboratory. A shunt inside experimental equipment overheated and caused insulation on conductors to burn. Flames were approximately one inch high and very localized. The employee de-energized equipment and blew out the flames. No combustible material was in the vicinity of the experiment. The fire was contained within the fuel cell and resulted in no damage to equipment.

The employee was conducting work with a fuel cell supplied by oxygen gas. The hazard control plan (HCP) associated with the work was for use with fuel cells supplied by air or hydrogen, but not for oxygen, which yields a higher current density. The technician had set up the station wiring to handle a current of 100 amps and the shunt was configured to handle a view more