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.


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.

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.


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.

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

A battery that was left on a charger over a given weekend was used to start a gasoline power generator. This battery was connected in series with another battery and the connection on the negative post was hand tightened. When an attempt was made to start the generator, the battery exploded on approximately the fifth click of the starter solenoid. No damage was done to any equipment or facilities and no one was injured.

The most probable cause of the accident was the severe overcharging of the battery (64 hours at 20 amp/hour). This charging created hydrogen, which combined with air or oxygen and an ignition source to form the explosion. One source of ignition could have been the loosely attached connection to the battery terminal. Another possible source may have been an view more