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

A closed 20-mL glass scintillation vial containing approximately 5 grams of an aluminum hydride compound ruptured and shattered, likely due to pressure buildup after 6 weeks of storage. The glass vial with aluminum hydride compound was stored inside a closed plastic box. The plastic box with vial was stored within an air-free glove box at room temperature. When the glass vial ruptured, the vial was contained within the plastic box; however, the plastic box door was forced slightly ajar. The ruptured containers and internal materials were fully contained within the glove box. No damage was observed to the glove box and no one was injured. The attached photograph shows the remains of the vial within the plastic box.

A small research sample of approximately 5 grams of aluminum hydride (alane) doped with 2-3 mol % TiCl3 contained within a glass ampoule ruptured after transit while stored in an office cabinet. The rupture was attributed to over-pressurization caused by hydrogen gas buildup within the sample over a four-month period. The glass ampoule, contained within a 0.2-inch thick cardboard shipping tube, was not a pressure-rated container. The rupture resulted in glass chards penetrating the protective cardboard shipping tube. The aluminum hydride, a fine powder, was released from the shipping tube during the pressure release. The fine aluminum powder leaked from the cabinet and set off a local smoke alarm that brought emergency responders to the scene. No personnel were present in the area when view more

Incident SynopsisDuring shipping preparation operations, out-gassed hydrogen/oxygen from a recently discharged silver/zinc battery in a hermetically sealed drum was ignited. Ignition was caused by a spark generated by the scraping of the battery against the side of the drum. An explosion occurred, blowing the lid from the drum, charring desiccant bags within the drum, and causing other damage.CauseThe cause of the incident was inadequate handling/transporting/storage techniques. The battery was placed in the drum too soon after discharge.