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.

An isolated vehicle hydrogen tank needed to be de-fueled, but the standard operating procedure could not be followed because the tank was inoperable and had to be manually vented with a special tool. This intentional release of hydrogen was done outside an R&D facility, but it unintentionally activated two sensors on vehicle bay gas detectors (at 20% LFL) in the adjacent indoor facility. Although each person involved in this activity was qualified to perform the work, the circumstances at the time were unusual.

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.

 

An operation to increase the pressure within a hydrogen tube-trailer to 6000 psig was in progress when a burst disk failed at approximately 5200 psig and hydrogen was released. A vent line attached to the burst disk was not sufficiently anchored and bent outward violently from the thrust of the release over an approximate 4-inch moment arm, causing considerable damage to the adjacent vent system components. The operation is conducted with personnel present, but fortunately no one was in proximity when the burst disk failed.

Following the incident, the damaged portion of the tube bank, consisting of 6 tubes, was isolated by valves on the system manifold. The operation was resumed with the unaffected portion of the tube bank, possessing another 18 tubes, until a second burst disk view more

A metal hydride storage system was refilled using compressed hydrogen in a closed lab environment. The tank system is an in-house development and is optimized for high hydrogen storage density and use with an air-cooled fuel cell. The system is equipped with a pressure relief valve that opens gradually at 35 bar to protect the tank from overpressure conditions. The tank itself is designed to adsorb 400 g of hydrogen at a pressure less than 15 bar.

For refueling, the secondary pressure on the compressed hydrogen supply container was set to 20 bar and the adsorption of the hydride was started without hydrogen flow limitation. Due to the exothermic nature of the hydride upon recharge, as expected a sharp increase in tank temperature was measured. The tank was uncooled because the view more

A partial pressure sensor for an automated gas environment system (AGES) was not functioning correctly for pure hydrogen flow. While personnel were troubleshooting the problem, a burst disk ruptured resulting in a leak of hydrogen gas and actuation of a flammable gas alarm.

System troubleshooting involved the installation of a small hydrogen gas cylinder and temporary manual valve in an engineered ventilated enclosure adjacent to an instrument sample well. A burst disk associated with the temporary manual valve ruptured upon opening of the gas cylinder valve. The vented gas, exhausting through an engineered exhaust system, triggered the flammable gas detector. Personnel promptly evacuated the area in accordance with established procedures. Appropriate personnel responded to the view more

A fire occurred in a continuous-feed autoclave system (fixed-catalyst-bed tubular reactor) when the rupture disc released, discharging hot oil, oil distillates, and hydrogen gas out a vent pipe into the autoclave cell. The flammable mixture was discharged directly into the cell because there was no system in place to catch or remotely exhaust the autoclave contents. The oil and gas ignited in a fireball that, in turn, ignited nearby combustibles (cardboard and paper), causing a sustained fire. The hydrogen gas and autoclave system were shutoff immediately. However, a lecture bottle containing hydrogen sulfide was heated by the surrounding fire and ultimately ruptured with enough force to cause facility structural damage. (Lecture bottles do not have a pressure-relief device.) The view more

A hydrogen explosion and fire occurred in the benzene unit of a styrene plant in a large petrochemical complex. The unit was being restarted following a scheduled maintenance shutdown. The explosion followed the release of about 30 kilograms of 700-psig hydrogen gas from a burst flange into a compressor shed. Two men were killed and two others were injured. If it had not been a holiday, the death toll and injuries would probably have been much worse.

The operators were bringing the plant online and increasing the hydrogen circulation pressure. About 10-15 seconds before the explosion, they heard a pop and then a loud hiss of pressure being released within the compressor shed. Witnesses reported seeing a white flash and then a large fireball. The fires burned out in 2-3 minutes, view more

A researcher was using numerous compressed gases in his lab. To facilitate reconfiguring his experimental apparatus, he installed "quick-disconnect" fittings on flexible tubing connected to his compressed gas cylinders/regulators. He also fitted all of the equipment that needed gas with complementary "quick-disconnect" fittings.

The day of the incident, he needed to purge his IR spectrometer with nitrogen as the element heated up. He mistakenly attached the "quick-disconnect" fitting from a cylinder of 10% nitrogen and 90% hydrogen to the "quick-disconnect" fitting on his spectrometer. As soon as the gas started flowing and he switched on the element, the instrument exploded, completely destroying a $6,000 piece of equipment. Only minor view more

In the fall of 2007, the operations team began a procedure (a written procedure was being followed) to sample the liquid hydrogen (LH2) storage vessels ("tanks"), and associated transfer system. This procedure was being performed to determine the conditions within the system, and if necessary, to purge the system of any excess gaseous hydrogen (GH2) in preparation for reactivation of the system. The system had not been used since 2003.

The LH2 storage system contains two (2) spherical pressure vessels of 225,000 gallons in volume, with a maximum working pressure (MAWP) of 50 psig. Eight-inch transfer piping connects them to the usage point. Operations began with activation of the burnstack for the LH2 storage area. Pneumatic gaseous nitrogen (GN2) systems in the view more