A safety research laboratory experienced two similar air-actuated ball valve failures in a 6-month period while performing hydrogen release experiments. The hydrogen release system contains a number of air-actuated ball valves which are sequenced by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) in order to obtain the desired release parameters. During an experimental release sequence, a PLC valve command failed to open the valve even though the PLC valve position confirm signal indicated the valve had opened. On further investigation, the valve actuator and valve stem were found to be moving correctly, but the valve was not opening. The system was depressurized and purged with nitrogen, and the valve was removed for inspection. Inspection required dismantling the valve, and in both incidents a view more

The System Shutdown logic activated and the compressor automatically shut down on high vibration. When the operator investigated the unplanned shutdown, two broken compressor head fasteners were noted lying on the deck.

The subject needle valve was used primarily for manual filling to control the flow rate of hydrogen from storage banks to the 70MPa test system. The valve was installed on the exterior of the thermal chamber in ambient temperatures of -5C to +30C. The gas flowing through the valve was at conditioned temperatures of -40C to +50C. The valve was in service for approximately two years and 400 fill operations.

Failure occurred during a test under an open valve condition. When attempting to close the valve, the turning force increased and the technician was unable to completely close the valve. An upstream ball valve was closed to isolate the flow.

A power plant reported a hydrogen leak inside an auxiliary building. The given plant was in cold shutdown at the time of the event. The discovery of this problem was as a result of an unassociated event involving the activation of a chlorine monitor in the control building. When additional samples indicated no chlorine gas, the shift supervisor ordered further investigation into other plant areas. Because there was no installed detection equipment, portable survey instruments were used to determine gaseous mixtures. Hydrogen was detected in the auxiliary building at 20 to 30 percent of the lower flammability limit (LFL) for hydrogen. A level of about 30 percent of LFL corresponds to about 1.2 percent hydrogen by volume.

When hydrogen was discovered in the auxiliary building, the view more

A liquid hydrogen neutron moderator developed a leak between the canister that contains liquid hydrogen and the insulating vacuum jacket.

The moderator assembly consists of an exterior metal vacuum jacket with an interior metal transfer line and canister that contain liquid hydrogen. The moderator canister is constructed of aluminum and is approximately five inches wide, five inches high, and two inches deep. The liquid hydrogen supply lines to the moderator canister are constructed of stainless steel. The operating temperature of the moderator varies from -420 degrees Fahrenheit to a possible 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Mechanical operators discovered a leak following a cleaning operation on the moderator. The cleaning operation was performed to remove impurities that could freeze view more

A routine security patrol reported a strong odor of sulfur coming from a battery charging facility. The battery charging facility is used for charging the various forklift batteries for the shipping and receiving operation. The building is approximately 450 sq. ft. and has four charging stations. Emergency response was initiated and the incident commander responded to the scene. Initial air monitoring indicated readings above the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) for hydrogen gas. The local fire department responded and setup for the situation. Facilities personnel responded and turned power off to the building. The building was ventilated and verified to be safe by the fire department. There were no injuries or damage.

The exhaust fan for the building failed, allowing hydrogen gas to view more

A deficiency was discovered in the application of a hydrogen sensor in the Rotary Mode Core Sampling (RMCS) portable exhauster. The sensor is installed in the flow stream of the exhauster designed to be used with a RMCS truck for core sampling of watch list tanks, and is part of the flammable gas detector system. During the previous week, a quarterly calibration of the sensor, per maintenance procedure, was attempted by Characterization Project Operations (CPO) technicians. Ambient temperatures during the sensor calibration were approximately 20 to 30 degrees F. Inconsistencies in calibration results and the failure of the sensor to meet the response-time calibration requirement lead to the conclusion that the unit could not reliably perform its safety function at low ambient view more

The valve stem for a funnel valve to a solution neutralization tank was found to be separated from the body of the valve. This valve is used for purging hydrogen gas from the vessel. The functional classification of this valve is safety-significant. The "as-found" condition of the affected valve prevented the valve from performing its intended design function.

The affected valve is a one-half inch polyvinyl chloride (PVC) ball valve. The valve has an extension shaft coupled to the valve body, and the valve handle is coupled to the extension shaft, allowing the valve to be operated outside the process panel cover. The valve stem is cross-drilled and the extension shaft is pinned through the stem.

With this occurrence, engineering evaluated the one-half inch PVC view more

During inspection of a hydrogen make-up compressor, it was discovered that a 1/4” stainless steel screw and nut that mounted a temperature gauge to a stainless steel pipe was resting against the side of a schedule 160 high-pressure hydrogen pipe. Constant vibration of the process equipment had caused the bolt to rub a hole in the high-pressure suction piping, resulting in the release of make-up hydrogen. The pipe was out of sight, and the problem was identified by an employee who heard the whistling sound of escaping hydrogen. The compressor was taken offline and depressurized.

A hydrogen gas detector on the ground floor of a building registered the release of a small amount of hydrogen gas and actuated automatic alarms both at the fire department and in one of its buildings. Additionally, interlocks connected to the gas detector completely shut down the experiment. Upon hearing the alarm, all occupants (about 6) promptly left the building. Fire department personnel are housed in the trailer next to a building and responded within one minute. They tested the atmosphere within the building, reset the gas detector, and secured the alarm at 9:15. The alarm was actuated when an experimenter assigned to the experiment was evacuating lines using a vacuum pump.

The speed of evacuation was controlled by a commercially manufactured flow meter. It is believed view more


  • = No Ignition
  • = Explosion
  • = Fire
Hydrogen Incident Summaries by Equipment and Primary Cause/Issue
Equipment / Cause Equipment Design or Selection Component Failure Operational Error Installation or Maintenance Inadequate Gas or Flame Detection Emergency Shutdown Response Other or Unknown
Hydrogen Gas Metal Cylinder or Regulator   3/31/2012
4/26/2010 12/31/1969     3/17/1999
Piping/Valves 4/4/2002
2/7/2009 1/24/1999


Tubing/Fittings/Hose   9/23/1999
1/1/1982 9/30/2004
Compressor   10/5/2009
    10/5/2009 8/21/2008  
Liquid Hydrogen Tank or Delivery Truck 4/27/1989 12/19/2004
8/6/2004 12/31/1969   1/1/1974 12/17/2004
Pressure Relief Device 7/25/2013
Instrument 1/15/2019 3/17/1999
Hydrogen Generation Equipment 7/27/1999     10/23/2001      
Vehicle or Lift Truck   7/21/2011         2/8/2011
Fuel Dispenser   8/2/2004
Fuel Cell Stack            


Hydrogen Cooled Generator       12/31/1969
Other (floor drain, lab
anaerobic chamber,
heated glassware,
test chamber,
gaseous hydrogen
composite cylinder,
delivery truck)
  • = No Ignition
  • = Explosion
  • = Fire