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.

Incident Synopsis
A technician was welding a cable suspended over a stainless steel H2 instrument line. During the welding process, two holes were accidentally burned through the hydrogen tubing. The operator heard a hissing sound and closed the valve, but the hydrogen had already ignited and it burned his hand while he was feeling for a leak.

Cause
A short during welding caused the pinholes in the tubing containing the gaseous H2.

NaAlH4 powder mixed with hexane was placed in two metal trays and dried by placement in a glove box antechamber under vacuum. After several days, the trays were moved into the glove box main chamber. As the powder in one of the trays was being transferred to a container involving scraping of a metal sieve and metal milling balls with a metal spatula, a portion of the powder in the tray spontaneously reacted rapidly, creating a pressure pulse which cracked the window at the back of the glove box. No injuries occurred, and the glove box window was resealed using tape within one to two minutes.

Incident Synopsis

A hydrogen explosion occurred in an emergency battery container used to transfer fuel elements. The container had five emergency power batteries. Damage was incurred by the explosion.

Cause

The H2 concentration in the container increased because the battery charger had been left on charge. In addition, the container was placed in an un-ventilated airlock. Ignition of the H2-air mixture was believed to be caused by the relays and micro switches activated when the airlock door was opened.

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.

Incident Synopsis
At an offsite liquid H2 fill station, a liquid hydrogen trailer hit a gaseous H2 purge shut off valve handle. Tubing attached to the purge valve was bent on both ends but did not leak.

Cause
The driver was not sufficiently careful in approaching the liquid H2 system fill point.

A bourdon tube ruptured in a pressure gage after 528 hours of operation in a liquid H2 system. The alarm sounded, the system was isolated and then vented.

A small electrical fire occurred (due to what is believed to be an electrical short circuit) inside a fuel cell test stand. Subsequently, a nearby hydrogen line made of flexible tubing was melted through and ignited the hydrogen, causing a small fire.

The electrical fire was easily extinguished. The hydrogen flame was extinguished by snuffing the flame, shutting off the gas lines and power to the test stand. No one was injured, but damage was incurred in the test stand.

Causes

An electrical short circuit occurred, causing a small electrical fire.
Electrical fire caused a flexible tubing hydrogen line to melt, thus exposing hydrogen to the fire.

Summary
A faulty modification to a multiple-gas piping manifold allowed mixing of hydrogen and oxygen that resulted in a storage tube explosion. Several employees suffered severe burn injuries from the incident.

Incident Synopsis
An employee, without authorization, fabricated and installed an adapter to connect a hydrogen tube trailer manifold to an oxygen tube trailer manifold at a facility for filling compressed-gas cylinders for a variety of gases, including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and helium. A subsequent improper purging procedure allowed oxygen gas to flow into a partially filled hydrogen tube on a hydrogen tube trailer. An ignition occurred in the manifold piping system and a combustion front traveled into the hydrogen tube where, after traveling about a view more

Incident Synopsis
One man was killed and another severely injured while working with a portable battery power supply.

At a test facility, a water-submersible portable battery power supply was used to power lighting. The battery power supply contained two 12-volt lead-acid automotive batteries, a wiring harness, and switching relays mounted in an air-tight case suitable for submersion in water. The case possessed ½-inch aluminum walls and a 13.8-pound lid. The box had been used periodically over two years.

After charging all night, the battery power supply was moved into place and connected to the lighting. Two technicians started to test the unit. One technician rested his hand on the case lid while the second leaned over the lid and threw the switch to activate view more

On a given day personnel were removing a blind hub that had been used to temporarily isolate a portion of a gaseous hydrogen system. As a result of a sudden release of 2,800 psig gaseous nitrogen, sand and debris kicked up from the concrete pad and caused minor injury to two technicians.

During the investigation, it was found that:

The temporary configuration change to the gaseous hydrogen system was initiated on multiple work orders and by different individuals. There was no single document that documented the temporary system configuration.
The procedure for performing the work was written using a drawing that had not been updated to show the actual system configuration. Verbal field direction was given when it was discovered the system was not configured per view more