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.

A control room received a tank lower flammability limit (LFL) analyzer low sample flow alarm. The control room operator initiated the appropriate alarm response procedure and the facility entered limiting conditions of operation. At the time of the alarm, the facility was experiencing severe weather and the field operator was unable to investigate the alarm in the field. After the severe weather cleared, the field operator investigated the alarm and found the sample flow to be low and out-of-limits.

At the given facility, composite lower flammability limit (CLFL) monitors are used to detect the presence of hydrogen and other flammable gases in waste tank vapor spaces. Maintaining the concentration of flammable vapors in tank vapor spaces below CLFL levels maintains tank view more

A subcontractor employee was using a band saw to cut a 1" metal pipe when a flash fire occurred on the third floor hydrogen fluoride area. Subcontractor employees were removing all piping associated with the Anhydrous Hydrofluoric Acid (AHF) system. These lines were being removed during plant decontamination and demolition (D&D). The subcontractor employee was attempting to cut a 90-degree elbow located at the highest elevation on the 1" line, but the lowest elevation of the overall piping run. Since hydrogen is lighter than air, it is speculated that a minute amount of hydrogen gas had accumulated in the elbow.

Even though Safe Shutdown personnel had previously opened the system and placed it in a safe configuration, residual hydrogen fluoride could have still 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

An offgas system mishap involved two explosions occurring within an interval of about 3 ½ hours. The first offgas explosion was reportedly caused by a welding operation on an air line adjacent to a hydrogen sensor line containing off gas. The welding arc initiated a detonation within the offgas piping. The detonation was contained by the piping system but blew out the water seal at the base of the vent stack.The second hydrogen explosion in this incident occurred in the stack base area. Hydrogen accumulated in the enclosed base area after the water seal had been blown in the first explosion. The stack base metal door was blown off its hinges from the second explosion, and the reinforced concrete stack was also damaged. A plant employee walking by the stack at the time of the explosion 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

A fire occurred in a hydrogen storage facility. The fire was reported by an employee who saw the fire start after he had aligned valves at the hydrogen storage facility in preparation for putting the hydrogen injection system into service. The employee escaped injury because he was wearing fire-retardant protective clothing and was able to quickly scale a 7-foot-high fence enclosing the hydrogen area. The local fire brigade was dispatched and offsite fire fighting assistance was requested. Upon reaching the scene, the local fire department reported seeing a large hydrogen-fueled fire in the vicinity of the hydrogen tube trailer unit. The heat of the fire potentially endangered the nearby hydrogen storage tanks. The onsite fire department, with offsite fire fighting support, fought the view more

The bulkhead between a liquid hydrogen tank and a liquid oxygen tank failed due to a series of events. Air services to the building were shut down for repairs and the facility had switched to an emergency nitrogen supply. Failure to switch back to service air when it became available, led to the mishap.

The emergency supply became depleted and two valves in the normal nitrogen purge system failed in the open position, releasing the high-pressure nitrogen gas from the manifold into the liquid hydrogen tank. The gas flow raised the liquid hydrogen tank pressure to 4.5 psig. That was sufficient to rupture the bulkhead wall.

Overview
A solution of potassium carbonate was being drawn off to an inventory tank for a turnaround/shutdown maintenance activity at a refinery's hydrogen production unit. On the day of the incident, the solution level in the tower wasn't checked as it should have been, which resulted in hydrogen gas flowing back into the tank until the increased pressure caused the tank to explode. The direct cause of the incident was the workers neglecting to check the solution level in the tower. It is not known whether the potential for backflow of hydrogen gas into the inventory tank was understood beforehand or not.

Incident Synopsis
An explosion occurred due to unexpected backflow of hydrogen gas while a solution of potassium carbonate was being drawn off to an view more

A laboratory technician died and three others were injured when hydrogen gas being used in experiments leaked and ignited a flash fire.

The incident occurred in a 5,700-square-foot, single-story building of unprotected non-combustible construction. The building was not equipped with automatic gas detection or fire suppression systems.

Employees in the laboratory were conducting high-pressure, high-temperature experiments with animal and vegetable oils in a catalytic cracker under a gas blanket. They were using a liquefied petroleum gas burner to supply heat in the process.

Investigators believe that a large volume of hydrogen leaked into the room through a pump seal or a pipe union, spread throughout the laboratory, and ignited after coming into contact with the view more

An employee at a soap manufacturing plant died in a flash fire outside the facility's hydrogenation building. Responding personnel encountered a fire at the base of the plant's hydrogen storage towers, and they found the victim, who was burned over 90 percent of his body, some 50 feet away.

Officials determined that a pipe connection failed and that hydrogen, pressurized at 1,800 psi, ignited when it was released into the atmosphere, killing the plant operator.

According to reports, the pipe connection failure stemmed from pressures higher than design tolerance, which in turn were the result of over tightening that occurred during routine maintenance replacement. The new bolts were stronger than those they replaced, and the threads of the nuts had been partially view more