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 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

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

Hydrogen was stored in a plant in a 42 ½ ft diameter sphere made of 3/16 inch steel. The sphere was partitioned into two hemispheres by a neoprene diaphragm attached around the equator. Hydrogen was stored under the diaphragm, while the upper hemisphere contained air. An explosion-proof fan was situated in the upper portion of the sphere in order to provide a slight positive pressure on the top of the diaphragm.

When the plant was shut down for a local holiday, the fan on top of the hydrogen sphere was also stopped. During plant startup two days later, a violent explosion occurred in the sphere. The sphere shell was torn into many sections by the explosion, and some of the sections were propelled as far as 1,200 ft. Some of these sections struck flammable liquid storage tanks view more

An anhydrous hydrogen fluoride (AHF) lecture bottle spontaneously exploded in a laboratory. No one was injured, but the lab was extensively damaged. The lecture bottle had split along its seam. Its cap and valve assembly were located to the immediate left.

The explosion was caused by hydrogen gas pressure build up in the cylinder. AHF comes in carbon steel cylinders as a liquefied gas under a pressure of 0.9 psi at 70 oF (i.e., the vapor pressure of the liquid). Though cylinders should be passivated with fluorine, which forms a protective coating, over time AHF may slowly react with the iron in a cylinder to form iron fluoride and hydrogen gas. The generation of hydrogen gas may produce cylinder pressures as high as several hundred psi.

A violent reaction occurred while hydrolyzing metal in water. The reactive metal treatment began with a review of the chemical inventory and setup of reaction vessels. The sodium metal was cut in shavings and added one at a time to the reaction vessel. After the second addition, an argon purge was added to disperse hydrogen gas faster. After approximately 10 pieces had been treated, the glass beaker shattered, releasing the contents of the reaction vessel (1 liter) inside the hood and causing the chemist's hand to receive superficial cuts. The process was being performed under a hood with all safety equipment in place. The employee was in personal protective equipment (PPE), but did receive two cuts on his hand through the glove. The treatment of reactive metals was being view more

A 30-milliliter (mL) vacuum bulb, equipped with a glass stopcock, containing one gram of pentacarbonyl manganese hydride exploded in a refrigerator. This caused the breakage of three other containers, releasing some contents into the refrigerator. The chemicals did not react. The refrigerator contained numerous reactive and flammable chemicals, mostly in glass containers.

The damaged containers were removed and relocated under a hood. The refrigerator was then examined for other breakage and inventoried. All breakage was cleaned up. The safety coordinator was notified and began an investigation.

The direct cause of the occurrence was the failure of a glass vacuum bulb, which either fractured due to some unforeseen chemical reaction forming hydrogen gas, or was unable to view more

A shop supervisor determined that a second shift would be necessary to complete some priority work on the spare hydrogen mitigation pump. The work scope for the shift would be dedicated to continued fabrication of designed tubing runs, repairs to existing tubing with known leaks and pressure testing of other various tubing runs. The shift craft complement would include three pipe fitters, one welder, one QC inspector and a shift supervisor.

The shift remained under normal operations prior to the event. There had been no existing problem up until the point that craft personnel implemented some hydrostatic pressure testing on some tubing runs on the spare hydrogen mitigation pump. Work activities associated with the hydrostatic testing were to be in accordance with the Hydrostatic view more

Hydrogen and chlorine concentrations at a certain plant are measured once each shift. On the morning of the explosion, the hydrogen concentration in the chlorine header leaving the cell bank was 0.47 percent. After passing through the chlorine coolers and liquid/gas separators, the hydrogen concentration of the gas streams increased to 2.5-3.2 percent H2, i.e., 63-80 percent of the lower flammability limit.

About 5 hours after the measurements were made, the DC power to the electrolysis cell bank was shut down because of intermittent power supply problems. At that time, a low-order explosion was heard from the chlorine dryer area of the plant. Thirty seconds later, chlorine gas began escaping from the chlorine header pumps, and another explosion occurred in the electrolysis cell view more

Overview: A pipe end containing fuel oil corroded at the outlet of a heat exchanger on the outlet side of a desulfurization reactor. The corroded pipe end leaked hydrogen gas, which exploded, causing oil to leak from the heat exchanger. The leaking oil developed into an oil fire, and the damage spread. The causes of the pipe end corrosion include the following:

There was a high concentration of corrosive substances in the process injection water.
The concentration of corrosive substances increased due to re-molding the heat exchangers.
The shape of the pipe cap was dead end piping.

Incident: During normal operations at a fuel oil refinery, a pipe end in a desulfurization unit developed a hydrogen leak, which led to an explosion. The pipe end was located on view more


The catalyst in a dehydrogenation reactor, which was usually operated under a hydrogen atmosphere, was changed while the reactor was isolated from the peripheral equipment by closing a 20-inch remotely controlled valve. The hydrogen pressure in the peripheral equipment was set at 20 KPaG, and the reactor was opened to the atmosphere. Anticipating some hydrogen leakage, suction from the piping was accomplished with a vacuum device and, nitrogen sealing was performed. When the piping connections were restored after changing the catalyst, flames spouted from the flange clearance and two workers were burned. One cause of the fire was poor management of the catalyst replacement process.

Incident Synopsis

A catalyst exchange was carried out in a dehydrogenation view more