A distillate dewaxing unit at an oil refinery was undergoing hot hydrogen regeneration of the catalyst when an explosion occurred. Catalyst regeneration is a periodically performed procedure, in which the normal liquid hydrocarbon feed is stopped and a hydrogen-rich gas mixture is fed through the catalyst bed for which the normal operating temperature is raised from 700F to 800F. During the catalyst regeneration process the reactor pressure is increased from normal operating levels just below 600 psig to about 640 psig. A pipe failure occurred as a sudden and complete rupture of the 10-inch diameter line at the exit of one of the two reactors. Security video revealed that the release rapidly exapnded and the hot gas mixture ignited shortly after rupture. A shock wave from the resulting 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
An accident occurred during setup for a popular hydrogen-oxygen balloon science demonstration at a local public school. The demonstrator suffered painful second-degree burns to his right forearm and was taken to the hospital. The paramedics feared that grave respiratory damage (due to flame inhalation) might have occurred.
The demonstrator had transported 15 helium-quality balloons, pre-filled with a hydrogen-oxygen mixture, in a large, black, polyethylene garbage bag. During the setup, he opened the bag to remove a single balloon for stringing and floating. Without warning, the entire bag of balloons detonated violently. Fortunately, the incident occurred an hour prior to the program and no one else was near. It was also fortunate that only a small box caught fire and none of view more
During the early morning hours on a Tuesday, a university support staff member was preparing for an off-campus community outreach program for high-school-age students in the community. One of the program demonstrations was to show students the reaction energy and properties of the hydrogen + oxygen = water chemical reaction. It was a demonstration that the professor and the staff member overseeing the program had done for over 15 years with no incidents ever occurring.
To prepare for the demonstration, eight balloons were filled, four with pure hydrogen and four with the proper combination of hydrogen and oxygen. The balloons were placed into a larger plastic garbage bag and carried outside to a university-owned SUV located next to the building's loading dock. The bag of view more
A hydrogen explosion occurred in a university biochemistry laboratory. Four persons were taken to the hospital for injuries. Three of these were treated and released shortly thereafter; the fourth was kept overnight and released the following evening. All of the exterior windows in the laboratory were blown out and there was significant damage within the laboratory. One sprinkler was activated that controlled a fire associated with a compressed hydrogen gas cylinder.
First responders from the local community and the university campus were quickly on the scene. Once the injured were attended to and the site secured, response efforts focused first on assessing potential hazards (electrical, fire, hazardous materials, etc). Campus personnel worked into the night to board up windows view more
A rupture disc blew on a 20,000-gallon liquid hydrogen tank, causing the vent stack to exhaust cold gaseous hydrogen. Emergency responders were called to the scene. To stabilize the tank, the remaining hydrogen was removed from the tank except for a small volume in the heel of the tank that could not be removed manually. The tank vacuum was lost. Firemen sprayed the tank with water and directed a stream onto the fire exiting the vent stack. The water was channeled directly into the open vent stack, and the exiting residual hydrogen gas (between -423 F and -402 F) caused the water in the vent stack to freeze. The water freezing caused the vent stack to be sealed off, disabling the only exit for the cold hydrogen gas. After a time, the residual hydrogen gas in the tank warmed up, causing view more
An explosion occurred at a chemical plant in an analysis room containing various analyzer instruments, including a gas chromatograph supplied with hydrogen. A contract operator was performing work to install a new vent line to a benzene analyzer that was part of a group of CO2 analyzers, but separate and unrelated to the gas chromatograph. During the process of this work, a plant supervisor accompanying the contract operator doing the work had an indication of flammable gas present on a portable detector. This was in conflict with the fixed gas detector in the analysis room that was indicating that no flammable gas was present. As a precaution, the plant supervisor immediately cut off the hydrogen supply and, along with the contract operator, began the normal task of determining if view more
A refinery hydrocracker effluent pipe section ruptured and released a mixture of gases, including hydrogen, which instantly ignited on contact with the air, causing an explosion and a fire. Excessive high temperature, likely in excess of 1400°F (760°C), initiated in one of the reactor beds spread to adjacent beds and raised the temperature and pressure of the effluent piping to the point where it failed. An operator who was checking a field temperature panel at the base of the reactor and trying to diagnose the high-temperature problem was killed. A total of 46 other plant personnel were injured and 13 of these were taken to local hospitals, treated, and released. There were no reported injuries to the public.
Property damage included an 18-inch (46-centimeter) long tear in the view more
Near the end of the process of filling a gaseous hydrogen tube trailer at a liquid hydrogen transfilling station, a safety pressure-relief device (PRD) rupture disc on one of the tube trailer’s ten tubes burst and vented hydrogen gas. The PRD vent tube directed gas to the top of the trailer where the hydrogen vented and ignited, blowing a flame straight up in the air. The operator filling the tube trailer heard a loud explosion from the sudden release of hydrogen gas and saw flames immediately. The operator closed the main fill valve on the tube trailer, stopping the hydrogen fill; however, the ten cylinders on the tube trailer were almost full (2500 psig/173 bar). The tube trailer involved in this incident was one of two tube trailers being filled simultaneously and was second in a view more
DESCRIPTION: On a Friday afternoon in 2007 a traffic accident occurred at the corner of two urban streets. Two vehicles were involved. Each vehicle contained a single driver (no passengers). Vehicle 1 was a Fuel Cell Vehicle. Vehicle 2 was a conventional Toyota Camry. Vehicle 1 was traveling west, approaching an intersection with a green light, and proceeded into the intersection. Vehicle 2 was traveling north on a cross street. The driver of Vehicle 2 incorrectly perceived a green light and proceeded into the intersection. The vehicles collided in the intersection.
RESPONSE: The police were coincidentally in the area and able to respond quickly to the site. The vehicles were moved out of the intersection. Vehicle 1 (fuel cell vehicle) shut down upon impact and was pushed out of view more